Malta hijack ends peacefully as Gaddafi loyalists surrender December 23, 2016
Libya’s Channel TV station said one hijacker, who gave his name as Moussa Shaha, had said by phone he was the head of Al-Fateh Al-Jadid, or The New Al-Fateh. Al-Fateh is the name that Gaddafi gave to September, the month he staged a coup in 1969, and the word came to signify his coming to power.
In a tweet, the TV station later quoted the hijacker as saying: “We took this measure to declare and promote our new party.”
STANDOFF ON TARMAC
MP Hadi al-Saghir told Reuters that Abdusalem Mrabit, a fellow member of Libya’s House of Representatives on the plane, had told him the two hijackers were in their mid-20s and were from the Tebu ethnic group in southern Libya.
Troops were positioned a few hundred meters (yards) from the plane as it stood on the tarmac. Several other flights at the airport were canceled or diverted.
A senior Libyan security official told Reuters that when the plane was still in flight on Friday morning the pilot told the control tower at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport it had been hijacked.
“Then they lost communication with him,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The pilot tried very hard to have them land at the correct destination but they refused.”
The aircraft had been flying from Sebha in southwest Libya to Tripoli for state-owned Afriqiyah Airways, a trip that would usually take a little over two hours.
The government of Malta said Prime Minister Muscat had discussed the hijack with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj by phone, and a negotiating team was formed at the airport. Britain offered Malta help with dealing with the incident.
The last major hijacking on the island was in 1985, when Palestinians took over an Egyptair plane. Egyptian commandos stormed the aircraft and dozens of people were killed.