ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) -- An Israeli-Arab man who tried to storm the cockpit of an Israeli jetliner told interrogators he wanted to crash the plane into a Tel Aviv building in a Sept. 11-like attack, Turkey's private NTV television reported Monday.
Security guards aboard the airliner on Sunday overpowered the man, who apparently had a pocket knife and threatened a stewardess during the flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul. None of the 170 passengers on board the Boeing 757 was harmed and the plane landed safely.
But the Israeli Airports Authority said Monday that Fukra was not holding a knife when he attacked the stewardess.
The suspect, Tawfiq Fukra, a 23-year-old Israeli Arab, was being questioned by anti-terrorism squads in Istanbul. Israel Radio reported that he was being taken to Israel for questioning by the Shin Bet security service.
The Israel Airports Authority appeared eager to downplay the incident. An initial investigation showed that the security apparatus at Ben Gurion Airport had operated satisfactorily, Schiff said.
Officials were still checking how the suspect managed to get the knife onto the plane, however. El Al is widely regarded as the best protected airline in the world, but also one of the most threatened. From the late 1960s into the 1980s, El Al planes and passengers were subjected to shooting attacks, one successful hijacking, several that failed and attempted bombings.
El Al's security includes armed guards at check-in, on-board marshals and extensive luggage searches. Passengers are told to arrive three hours ahead of flights to allow time for the security checks.
Israel Radio reported that Fukra, sitting in the coach section, had entered the business class section twice to ask a stewardess for water. On the third time, he was told to sit down since the plane was landing. He then pushed the stewardess and a guard jumped on him.
A second guard who helped overpower Fukra noticed he had a small knife in his possession, the radio said.
NTV said Fukra told interrogators he wanted to force the plane to return to Tel Aviv and that he intended to crash it into a building there.
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