A Briton on board the jet diverted to Stansted last Friday said: ‘I will explode this airplane in the air,’ a court heard yesterday.
Mohammed Safdar, 41, a restaurant worker from Nelson, Lancashire, allegedly made the threat to kill everyone on board the plane carrying 308 passengers and 11 crew.Safdar and his friend, Tayyab Subhani, 30, a taxi driver and Morrisons supermarket worker, appeared before magistrates in Chelmsford, Essex, charged with falsely claiming ‘that crew and passengers would be killed and the aircraft would be blown up before landing’.The charges follow last Friday’s drama when RAF warplanes were scrambled to intercept a flight from Pakistan.
The Pakistan International Airlines jet had to be escorted by fighter jets into London Stansted rather than its intended destination of Manchester.Outside court, Subhani’s elder brother, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Not everyone with a beard is evil – my brother is innocent.‘It is shocking that a person who works in Morrisons and has done so much for the community could be linked to this.
‘Tayyab is just a normal working-class person. I don’t know what happened on the plane. He has rung and all he is saying is “don’t worry”.‘We sing the national anthem with pride, we are proud to be British and I know my brother would not do this.’The British-born defendants spoke only to confirm their names and addresses yesterday. Their lawyers said they would deny the charge.They are due to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court on August 5 for a plea and case management hearing.
Endangering an aircraft carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.The defendants, both born in Burnley, Lancashire, wore red jumpers, white trousers and green caps, and spoke only to confirm their names and addresses. Their lawyers said they would deny the charge. The pair had been travelling home after attending Safdar’s mother’s funeral, the court heard. Safdar, a married father-of-three, and Subhani were both refused bail and were remanded in custody by magistrate Sarah-Jane Davies.Armed officers entered the plane shortly after it landed and arrested the two men.
The remaining passengers disembarked the plane under police escort.Superintendent Darrin Tomkins, of Essex Police, said officers were notified at 1.20pm on Friday of threats made to the safety of passengers aboard the Boeing 777.He said no ‘suspicious items’ were recovered, and that officers carried out a forensic examination of the plane on the north side of Stansted Airport with flights carrying on as normal.Passengers were eventually allowed back onto the aircraft with their luggage at around midnight on Friday to continue their journey to Manchester. – DailyMail