♪ egypt airplane has been high jacketed and taken to dolonaka airport in cyprus and at least four people do remain on the plane along with the cabin crew and the flight crew. you are watching al jazeera live from headquarters in doha with me peter and let's get you right up to date with what we know so far about our top story the hijacking of that egypt air flight 320 and confirmed as ms181 and hijacked from
alexandria to kyra and 56 passengers and crew and one egypt security official and air bus a329 and 49 passengers have been released and they named the suspect as abrihim and the president says the hijacking is not related to terrorism. and the airport has been closed and all flights have been diverted and zaina is here from the greek city and terrorism or not whether it's a domestic that has got out of hand in the worst possible way, the authorities have to deal with what they see and what they are being told and they are being told he hijacked the plane and has an explosive device on his person at the tim time. >> reporter: yes, hijacker still inside the plane with a number of passengers.
what we understand from initial reports from the pilot is that this hijacker threatened to blowup the plane, told the pilot he had a suicide vest on and that is why the pilot diverted the plane to larnika and took off from alexandria in egypt and flying to cairo and then diverted and some officials quoted in the media as saying they doubt that explosives are on board and authorities also saying that they cannot confirm what the hijacker has own board, what kind of explosives and if he indeed has any on board but undoubtedly a very dangerous situation. this man now demanding political asylum. what we understand from the cyprus president this is not linked to terrorism, this man had personal motives and it's not a political matter. negotiations are continuing. this is what we understand.
>> people understandably at this point what had happened 3 1/2 hours ago zaina people at this point questioning how unbalanced he may or may not be but he is balanced enough to know that he has got to hang on to some hostages and got to keep the crew on board because in his mind i guess that is the leveler with which he can get what he thinks he can achieve. >> and we have to ask the question what was he thinking and does he believe hijacking the plane he will be granted asylum and he asked for asylum and demanded a translator and also demanded to speak to his wife. and cyprus television now reporting that marina is the name they gave his ex-wife is actually participating in the negotiations so we will have to see whether or not she will be able to convince him to
surrender and whether or not first we need to know if there were actual explosives on board that plane and the egyptian security authorities will answer the questions how did he board the plane with explosives, how did he pass through security and this wouldn't be the first time because a few months ago a russian plane blew up in mid air after taking off from the egyptian airport and the egyptian authorities were criticized for the lax security in that airport. so reports are still coming in. what we understand is this man has personal motives, we do not know if he is linked to any group and we do not know whether or not he will agree to release the remaining hostages on board unharmed. >> and just staying with that idea of egyptian security or egyptian airline security we understand as well there would have been some sort of security officer o board, very probably
almost definitely dressed in civilian clothing and authorities will want to know why that person reacted h the way they did although we don't know how they reacted. i mean it's very easy for us sitting here talking about this to say the on board security officer should have done something, maybe that person did try to do something or just went with his training, just went with this is a potentially incendiary and combustible situation and they keep the situation calm and talk to the hostage taker. >> yes, and how did he manage to speak to the pilot, how did he enter the cockpit, us that door locked, a lot of questions that need to be answered and i can imagine that cyprus authorities, police on the ground are now questioning the women and children and the other passengers who were allowed to disembark from the plane not too long after it landed in larnaca
and what we understand is the initial negotiation the hijacker demanded that the police move further away from the aircraft on the tarmac and then he then released 56 people, women and children which really was a sign that in one way or another this man did not belong to a group for example linked to i.s.i.l. because i.s.i.l. will not pick and choose. we have seen their trademark attacks in the past. they usually do not choose between women or children, they don't discriminate and they just blowup the plane. but at the moment what we understand from cyprus authorities is that this man has a personal motive, he is demanding political asylum and demanding to see his ex-wife and we understand his ex-wife is a cyprus national is now participating in negotiations.
>> zaina thanks very much and let's show you the pictures coming to us from egypt i think it is, yes, there we are, they are just about to hold a news conference there, that is either going to be the local egyptian aviation authority or it's going to be local civil aviation authority with a bleed through if you will of the over arching principles as applied to this kind of situation as laid down by all the international aviation authorities because they talk to each other with security and reactions and how do you react though those kind of situations and they are handed down to the operator, the airports and carriers as well and the tour operator, it's all under that umbrella of organizations like the civil authorities and people like aarta and right now we have that
hostage situation taking place on the ground in larnaca and four people held against their will on the air bus a320 belonging to egypt air, not a legacy carrier per se but has been flying a long time, the first flight took off in 1932, the government owned on board every single flight. if you get on a flight with that carrier there will be a security officer usually wearing civilian clothing. the person who has hijacked that plane somehow managed to establish communications with the flight deck telling the pilot and the copilot in effect i have an explosive device with me and i am hijacking this plane, he initially wanted to go to istanbul for some reason, that is one of those odd disconnects of this event, as we have been working the story on al jazeera we have been getting contradictory reports as to where he wanted to go to. at one point it was istanbul and told by the pilot sorry not
going to happen, don't have enough fuel and it was running low on fuel but they managed to get to larnaca and we will stay with the pictures and talk to vom value between an aviation specialist on skype out of sidney and you have been following this story hour to hour and seems generally so far it is paying real dividends. >> absolutely and beginning to look like this is some sort of domestic dispute with this chap wanting to get to cyprus ultimately because that is where his estranged wife is but the authorities are well trained and cockpit crew and cabin crew are well trained to handle situations like this and they have specific training to deal with hijacks. so they will take it slowly. they won't know whether he really does have explosives on him or whether it's just a belt stuffed with any old thing.
but they won't be taking any chances. they will be treating this as a real hijacking both amongst the crew and the negotiations on the ground. >> when they are talking to him he was demanding a translator and one of the disconnects is the word i was using 30 seconds ago one of the disconnects here is he wanted a translator and yet his wife is a cyprus person and another layer to that particular avenue to our conversation and contributor said you don't have to speak any local language if you are in cyprus because it's very unique nature you can live and work here for year after year after year in english but that is something, that is part of the tool box that the negotiators are able to deploy in any given situation because they i guess have a proforma shopping list of items and ways of behaving was they go through each hostage situation is utterly unique. >> yes, that is absolutely correct. and one thing we don't know at the moment about this man is
what his psychological state is, whether he has any sort of a mental problem, so they will be treating this with kids gloves because if they have an unbalanced mind on their hands then they will have to treat this very carefully and hopefully talk them down from where he is, get him to release the hostages and give him to give himself up but negotiators as i say are well trained with dealing with this sort of situation and they made assessment already at what his state of mind is. >> when it comes to dealing with this situation, tom, is it as we would assume it is one hostage negotiator who tries to establish a relationship with the hostage taker and tries to establish a certain rapport and kind of unveils himself and makes himself or herself indeed a real person so they can engage and they can talk about something or nothing, they can talk about this just to
establish the conduit, of communication to decompress the situation ever so slightly so what the hostage negotiators want to see happening which is everyone gets off that plane safe and well they can get traction with moving him towards saying, yes, okay, i maybe don't have an explosive device or i'll get off the plane first or if you maybe give me what i want i'll let more people go free. >> yes, that is correct, the hostage negotiator will be trying to make out a connection, a link with the man to find some common thread where they can sympathize with other to get the link and talk to them as a friend and someone who can help him out of his current situation and it should also be mentioned that the pilot and the crew of the aircraft will also be working to sympathize with this man, to go along with him, to
help him understand the situation he is in and to act as if they are not his enemies but his friends, they are trying to do that also. >> what do you think the atmosphere is like on board? one remembers some of the famous hijack stories from the 80s and 90s where there were problems with the air conditioning on board, we used to see occasionally one and i think it was the mid 80s and they took food and water on board for the hijackers and people held hostage. the atmosphere on board we have not seen the doors of the aircraft being opened, we have not seen any of the windows on the flight deck being popped so would that imply that the situation on board this particular aircraft is pretty calm and they are talking to each other or do you think that particular aspect has not kicked off yet? >> it depends on the individuals on board. particularly the non-egyptians or the foreign people who are on board the aircraft, again we don't know who they are, whether
one or two of them may be quite call calm or nervous and quite tense and again the pilot and the crew will be trying to keep that tension down to keep things going to perhaps say would you like a cup of coffee or a coke of cola or something like that to be friend him as it were. but it really depends on the individuals who are aboard the aircraft, how tense it is inside that steel shell. >> just looking at the broader picture for a second tom this is the second time in the last three months that the news channels, the newspaper and websites have been headlining egyptian carriers or planes flying into and out of egypt for all the wrong reasons. what is your analysis of where egyptian aviation is at the moment? >> it's falling short on the security front, there is no doubt about it even after the
deadly crash of the russian airliner, they say they were beefing up security and probably did take some measures but there will be an investigation, however, this drama unfolds will be an investigation not only by egyptian authorities but people like the international transport association, the international organization and the federal administration of the u.s. they will want to audit egyptian security practices to make sure not only in alexandria but all over egypt that they are up to scratch and meeting global standards for security which is a key to safe air travel these days, so there are a lot of big question marks over egyptian security and particularly at airports, however, as the drama unfolds. >> many thanks and let's take you back to freelance journalist who is in athens for us and
linda lots of different aspects of the story coming together but just filter through for me what we know has happened in the past couple of hours. >> reporter: i think what is important and what is emerging in the very last-minute is we knew of course about this hijacking tacking place and knew there were passengers on board. what we didn't know were the motives behind this and of course everybody initially thought of terrorism as a possible link but what we are seeing now without being able to exclude terrorism at this point is that the man in question, the hijacker seems to also have some personal motives, he seems to be asking for asylum for political asylum in cyprus, find out that his wife is greek cyprus ap -- and we are putting together the pieces of the puzzle and know
most of those on board the plane apart from the nationals and crew have been free and have been allowed to let go, we know the plane is in a secure part of where the negotiations are taking place and that the egyptian and cyprus authorities are working very closely at the moment to try and bring this under control so the developments have been going very, very quickly and what we are seeing is the personality a little bit and we are trying to understand more about who this person is, his name has been given to the authorities, he is an egyptian national so now it remains to clarify what his motives are and intentions are and see how these negotiations are going to play out. >> what else do we know about him? he is an egyptian national and an egyptian passport and 27 years old and that is one
unconfirmed report and that does not mesh with the pictures we are seeing 90 minutes ago of a more mature general man standing at the front of the aircraft with his back to what looks like towards the cockpit. >> you are absolutely right and the reason that we are seeing these conflicting reports is that this information is only just emerging so although the identity of this man has now been released and he is said to be 27-year-old we are only just trying to understand what his links to cyprus are and this woman, whether this is really more of a domestic situation that has gone horribly wrong and everyone wonders about his background and his psychological profile, whether this is a man who has worried authorities before or whether we have any information about his mental state of being. >> and there was an image that was circulating about ten
minutes ago when he handed over a letter to be delivered to his ex-wife and we understand she is from cyprus and quite chilling image as well with a female official or female member of the cabin crew standing at the door of the aircraft and the reason we can't get a good grab of that to examine it in detail because it's on the other side of the aircraft from where our camera is pointing so it's at the top of the steps, it is right camera, it's to the right of that picture but he obviously wants to communicate something to his former wife, obviously we don't know what that is yet. she may not know what that is yet because we think she is still either on route to the airport or she will herself probably be interviewed by the relevant authorities. >> but i think it's key this woman is now part of this negotiating process simply because it will allow
authorities and those involved in the negotiations to get a better understanding of who the man is much more quickly. i mean now they have inside information from his ex-wife and as a result it means that she may be able to play a key role in these negotiations and if the man is indeed asking for political asylum, i think it's fair to assume that she will obviously she has this negotiating card, and he has these hostages but it won't be to his advantage to be hardly diplomatic and cooperative if this is his motive and his intention. so i this that in the next hour or minutes even we are likely to get a bit more clarity and move closer to a resolution. >> looking at some quotes that have been circulating over the past hour or so linda i see just quote directly from the egyptian
foreign ministry, they are saying he is not a terrorist, he is an idiot. i'm thinking here that quote might come back to bite him because idiot or not he has managed to breakthrough security and hijack a plane. we will leave that conversation with linda because we want to go to the news conference for you being held by the aviation authority in egypt, let's just open the mics and see if that gentleman we are looking at just now is about to tell us what is going on. >> translator: specific pieces of information others have knowledge of this information, however, i cannot disclose. again, we are not going to disclose any unnecessary information or untimely information. i will brief you on the
situation so that i will put you in the picture. this morning at about 6:50 the captain of flight m schs21 whics supposed to deport from alexandria airport at 6:30, they took off at 6:30 in the morning on air bus 320, it was hijacked and one of the passengers was wearing an explosive belt. he demanded the flight should head to turkey or cyprus. it was agreed with him that it will be landing in cyprus. the plane had 55 passengers on board of various nationalitys, some of them were from alexandria to cairo and others
were on transit at the cairo airport. at 7:05 we started to deal with the situation as a crisis. we were dealing with it from the crisis management center. the prime minister and all the team were present at internation international cairo international airport following the situation and this is what happened, at 7:50 the flight or the craft landed at larnaca airport following which a number of negotiations were taken with the hijacker and according to intelligence he is not armed, he is not carrying any gun, he claims to be wearing an explosive belt and we are not aware if the explosive belt is genuine and the threat is genuine or not at various levels
and the current situation as we speak is that. only seven persons are on board. the captain, the copilot, one air hostage, the air marshal on board and three passengers. i cannot disclose more information about that. i will not speak about the nationalitys. it is not about any thing at the moment as much as it is about security. i will not be disclosing any specifics on the nationalitys. again, i will not answer. again, i am disclosing the figures as we speak, the information we have in hand and i'm responsible for the statement i'm making. what about explosive belt, what do you mean?
as i said we are not certain yet. we are dealing with a situation that is a genuine threat and similar situation we cannot take belittle of the situation and we should address it. on the other hand our call center and through the crisis management itself we connected the families and relatives of all the passengers. in one hour's time an aircraft will be heading to larnaca and we are not waiting for the 4:00 p.m. flight back from larnaca, we will dedicate an aircraft that will head straight to larnaca airport to bring back all the passengers who were freed. we will take them questions from left to right, yes. the question is about
nationalitys. again, i cannot disclose any information about the nationalitys. as i said the captain, the copilot, the air hostage and three passengers. why it was headed, why the passengers were released, all the information is not necessary at the moment. as we speak only the pilot, copilot, air marshal, one air hostage and three passengers, this is the information i can release as we speak. who is negotiating with the hijack hijacker? the answer is more than one authority are taking part in the negotiation process with the
hijackers. i assured the people alive that we are addressing the situation very closely and we are keying on the well-being of all the passengers. we are dealing with a situation at the highest possible level and i will go back to the same question. what about the identity of the hijack hijacker, is he alone? and as we speak there are no specific demands raised by the hijacker. negotiations are underway and there are many authorities taking part in the negotiations and i request you not to listen to the reports. this is the final situation as
we speak. no specific demands were raised by the hijacker. negotiations are underway and we cannot disclose any specific demands. what do you expect the negotiations to continue? we cannot determine the length of negotiations. our main concern is the safety and well-being of the passengers, those released and those still on board. we will continue to act in this fashion to maintain the safety and well-being of all the people on board no matter what time it takes. we have the dedicated professional experts taking care of the situation. i request to you not to listen to any reports and only the information i release.
it was also reported they started releasing the passengers according to their nationalitys. i repeat myself certain information cannot be disclosed as we speak. we cannot be overwhelmed by our journalistic anything at the expense of security issues. we are not serving anybody if we are keying on the news. let us do our duties. let us do what we should and then we can release all the pieces of information at a later stage. i will not disclose any names. whatever reports are released by any other party, this party is responsible for them. again, i will not disclose any