U.S. arrests man for 1986 hijacking

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

WASHINGTON -- A man who has been jailed in Pakistan since the 1986 hijacking of a Pan American World Airways flight has been arrested by U.S. authorities and is being returned to face hijacking charges, officials said Monday.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said Zayd Hassan Abd Al-Latif Masud Al Safarini was arrested by American authorities Friday after he was released in Pakistan.

Safarini was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, Alaska, late Monday. He was expected to be returned to Washington to face a 1991 indictment for the Sept. 5, 1986, hijacking in Karachi, Pakistan.

"This arrest demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. to track down persons charged with having committed terrorist acts against Americans, no matter how long it takes," Ashcroft said.

Safarini and five other people were charged in the 1991 indictment with 126 counts, including murder of U.S. citizens outside the U.S. and attempted murder of U.S. citizens.

Twenty-two passengers, including two U.S. citizens, were killed during the hijacking. Authorities said four men disguised as security guards took control of the aircraft as it was boarding passengers. The flight crew managed to escape, leaving the 379 passengers in the hands of the kidnappers.

Over the next 16 hours, the hijackers executed an American citizen, Rajesh Kumar, in an attempt to enforce their demand that the flight crew return. After the plane's auxiliary power unit stopped working, the hijackers opened fire on the passengers and threw hand grenades at them, killing another 21, including a second American, Surendra Patel, officials said.

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