- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

1:15 p.m.

BOSTON (AP) — Fighter jets escorted a London-to-Washington flight to Boston’s Logan airport today after the pilot declared an emergency because an apparently claustrophobic passenger was causing a disturbance, a federal official said.

The federal security official said there was no indication of terrorism and denied reports that the passenger had a screwdriver, matches and a note referring to al Qaeda.

The female passenger aboard United Flight 923 said she was claustrophobic and became very upset and got into a confrontation with the flight crew, said George Naccara, federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration for the Massachusetts airport.

The disturbance — just a week after authorities in London said they foiled a terror plot to blow up 10 trans-Atlantic flights — was enough to persuade the pilot to issue an alert, which activated two fighter jets to escort the flight into Logan, Mr. Naccara said.

He said he did not think any items the woman was carrying were the cause of the outburst. An airport spokesman previously said the woman was carrying Vaseline, a screwdriver and matches but backed off that statement, and Mr. Naccara said it wasn’t true.

“I don’t know what she had onboard with her, but we have been told she did not have a screwdriver, she did not have any liquids such as Vaseline, and any notebook she may have had, it did not contain an al Qaeda reference,” Mr. Naccara said. “This is still playing out, of course.

“There was speculation in the beginning of all those items, but those have been proved untrue,” he said. He said he had no information about matches.

The flight from Heathrow to Washington Dulles International Airport had 182 passengers and 12 crew members, UAL Corp. spokesman Brandon Borrman said.

State police and federal agencies took control of the plane after it landed.

Passengers were taken off the plane and loaded onto a bus, and Mr. Naccara said the passengers were being interviewed. Their luggage was spread out on the tarmac, where it was rechecked by security officials and trained dogs.

Since the foiled terror plot surfaced in London last week, airports have tightened security in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Liquids and gels have been banned from carry-on luggage, and even tighter restrictions are in place in the U.K.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide