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Passengers overpower would-be hijacker on Turkish Airlines flight

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A large, brave passenger on a Turkish Airlines flight overpowered a would-be hijacker by sitting on him, passengers and authorities said.

According to passenger accounts in the media, the attempted hijacking began shortly before the Boeing 737 plane was going to land in Istanbul on Wednesday. The masked suspect, later identified in news reports as 40-year-old Yasar Cuma or Cuma Yasar, claimed to be holding a bomb (later found to be fake) and tried to break into the cockpit, demanding that the plane return to its originating point in Oslo, Norway.

Two passengers, identified as Firat Faysal Ali and Dag Gjerstad by a Turkish news wire, subdued him before he could get into the cockpit.

The crew moved the 59 passengers to the back of the plane as the suspect was restrained toward the front. The plane landed in Istanbul ahead of schedule.

When police arrived on the scene, one of the passengers was still sitting on the suspect. Police quoted in an Agence France-Presse report say that the suspect, a Turkish man, may have psychological problems. An ID found on him said he suffers from mental illness.

An asylum seeker in Norway, he went on a hunger strike for 43 days last summer to try to get a residence permit, according to Norwegian news reports, and a friend of his professed not to be surprised about the alleged hijacking attempt.

By Liz Goodwin




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