Hijacker’s bomb was fake

The Washington Post

UVDA AIR FORCE BASE, Israel — A bizarre hijacking and hostage drama ended peacefully in southern Israel’s Negev Desert on Sunday when a man with a fake bomb strapped to his body surrendered after seizing a domestic Russian flight with 57 passengers and crew on board and forcing it to fly to the Jewish state.

By the end of the day, relieved Israeli army officers were calling the incident "a weird story." But for several hours Sunday morning it seemed serious enough that Prime Minister Ehud Barak, on his way to Washington to meet President Clinton, turned his plane around and headed back to Israel to manage the crisis.

When the hijacker gave himself up a couple of hours later, Barak ordered his plane to turn around again, and resumed his flight to Washington.

Early reports suggested there were as many as four Chechen hijackers on board the Vnukova Airlines’ Moscow-bound flight from the southern Russian region of Dagestan, which borders breakaway Chechnya to the east.

In fact, the lone hijacker was a Dagestani identified as Amarchenov Avmerchan, a man in his late 20s or early 30s who mentioned nothing about the Palestinians.

The hijacker, insisting he had a bomb, seized the plane Saturday night shortly after takeoff from the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala. The plane flew to Baku, Azerbaijan, where it refueled before taking off for Israel.

Heeding the pilot’s pleas, Israel allowed the jet to set down at Uvda air force base near the Red Sea resort of Eilat. Israeli ambulances and commandos rushed to the scene in anticipation of a hostage rescue scenario.

But Avmerchan surrendered almost immediately, following cursory negotiations with the Israelis. The "bomb" he had strapped around his waist turned out to be an instrument for measuring blood pressure, covered by a bandage.

He told Israeli authorities that he had been sent by his father to transmit a message "to the world and the emperor of Japan," according to Israeli army Maj. Gen. Yom Tov Samia. The message, contained in a videotape and two letters, "warned the world about the yellow race taking control of the white race," Samia said.

Israeli authorities denied Avmerchan’s demand to hold a news conference and handed him over to the Russians for extradition to Moscow.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

Smoke comes out of the roof of ReMyx'd, a restaurant on Smokey Point Drive, on Sunday, May 28, 2023, in Arlington, WA. (IAFF Local 3438)
Fire damages Arlington bar that received death threats

Arlington Police say initial indications are that fire at ReMyx’d does not appear to be intentionally set.

Most Read