The Federal Aviation Administration has warned U.S. airlines of a possible hijacking attempt by Palestinian terrorists in Europe, the U.S. Embassy and the FAA said today.
But officials at the U.S. Embassy in London, the FAA and the White House denied a report today in the tabloid Daily Express that U.S. diplomats and military personnel had been notified of the warning. They also denied that the warning said the hijacking could occur over Easter weekend.
A spokesman for the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, West Germany, said it was aware of the warning but did not pass it along to military personnel.
The front-page Daily Express report came during a political debate in Britain over whether airlines were properly informed about a radio-cassette bomb before Pan Am Flight 103, a Boeing 747 bound for New York, was blown apart over Lockerbie in Scotland on Dec. 21, killing 270 people.
In Washington, White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater acknowledged today that the warning was issued March 16 and that it was “similar to many, many similar kinds of information and security bulletins that go out.”
Fitzwater said that “it was not given to any military or diplomatic personnel but rather just to security experts at aviation airports and airlines.” The notice did not mention any specific time period, such as Easter, Fitzwater said, nor did it mention a specific airline or airport.