Recent incidents involving attacks on US airliners

  • AFP, Washington
  • |
  • Updated: Dec 26, 2009 10:06 IST

Airplanes have long proved attractive targets for hijackers, but in recent years attackers have attempted to turn aircraft into weapons capable of exacting massive and spectacular damage.

US officials said on Friday that a Nigerian man was the latest to try and attack a plane, seeking to ignite an explosive device aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253 as the Airbus 330 carried 278 passengers from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Here are some key facts about recent attacks, some executed and others aborted, involving US airplanes:

1994: Senior Al-Qaeda member Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and others develop a plan to place bombs aboard up to 12 airplanes -- an attack codenamed Operation Bojinka that is disrupted when Filipino authorities raid the plotters' apartment.

September 11, 2001: 19 Al-Qaeda members hijack four airplanes, flying two directly into the World Trade Centers in New York and a third into the Pentagon building in Virginia. Passengers on a fourth plane overwhelm the hijackers, forcing the aircraft to crash into a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.

December 22, 2001: An attempted attack by British citizen Richard Reid on an American Airlines Boeing between Paris and Miami is thwarted by the crew and passengers. Reid, who allegedly trained with Al-Qaeda, hid the explosives in the soles of his shoes and tried to light them mid-flight.

2003: Al-Qaeda plans to hijack planes leaving London Heathrow airport and to crash them back into the airport and into a high-rise building in London's Canary Wharf business district.

August 10, 2006: British police raids result in the arrest of 21 people accused of plotting to blow up airliners flying between the United States and Britain over the Atlantic Ocean using explosives made from liquids. The plot results in new restrictions on what passengers can carry on board.

December 25, 2009: Passengers aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit overwhelm a Nigerian man who set off an explosive device as the plane came in to land. The device was quickly put out and no one was harmed.


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