Religious Fanatic Hijacked Plane After 9-9-09 Revelation

CrimeCrime, Law and JusticeTransportation DisastersAir Transportation DisastersDisasters and AccidentsMexicoBolivia

MEXICO CITY - A jetliner from the beach resort of Cancun was hijacked by a Bolivian religious fanaticwho said he had a divine revelation, according to Mexican authorities.

Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna says Jose Mar Flores,44, told police that Wednesday's date - 9-9-09 - is the satanicnumber 666 turned upside down.

Garcia Luna says Flores used a fake bomb to hijack the plane,then ordered the pilot to circle over Mexico City seven times.

He said he wanted to warn Mexican President Felipe Calderon of animpending earthquake.

The hijackers released all passengers shortly before federal policestormed the plane, and the crew emerged unharmed moments later.

Police, who did not fire a single shot, led as many as eighthandcuffed men away from the airplane, which was isolated at theend of a runway in an area designed for emergencies.

U.S., French and Mexican citizens were among the 112 passengersand crew on Aeromexico Flight 576, according to a U.S. official whohad been briefed on the situation.

The official was not authorizedto discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mexico's transportation and communications secretary, JuanMolinar, said there was no bomb on the airplane, although somepassengers said one of the hijackers held a package that resembledan explosive device, and a bomb squad was later seen near theairplane.

He did not immediately identify the hijackers or speculate ontheir motive.

"Various people who participated in the act have been detainedand we are investigating," Molinar said.

The attorney general's office said it was opening aninvestigation into terrorism and kidnapping but did not specify howmany people could be charged.

Mexican news media initially reported the hijackers wereBolivian, but Bolivia's ambassador to Mexico, Jorge Mancilla, saidMexican authorities had no evidence that was the case.

Mancilla said sources told him they could be Colombian or Venezuelan.Several passengers told reporters they did not notice a non-Mexicanaccent.

Passenger Rocio Garcia told the Televisa network that the pilotmade an announcement after landing in Mexico City that the airplanewas being hijacked. Passengers said the hijackers nevercommunicated with them directly.

"These were scary moments," she said.

She said she saw one of the hijackers whom she described as awell-dressed, older man.

"He looked fine, like a normal passenger," she said.

Passenger Daniel Hernandez said he saw a hijacker carrying aBible.

The most recent hijacking in the Americas occurred on April 19,when a man with a handgun tried to commandeer a Canadian jetlinerfrom Jamaica. The standoff ended before takeoff at Montego Bay'sairport when military commandos burst onto the plane and disarmedthe man, who was described as "mentally challenged."

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