Jerusalem, 18 November 2002

Preliminary findings of investigation into attempted hijacking of El-Al flight #581
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Preliminary findings of the investigation into the November 17, 2002 attempted hijacking of El-Al flight #581 from Ben Gurion International Airport to Istanbul, show that the background to the event appears to be hostile terrorist action.

The passenger aroused the suspicion of security guards in the airport but was allowed to board the flight following a security inspection. The passenger attempted throughout the flight to enter the business class section of the plane. The attack took place towards the end of the flight, when all passengers were supposed to be seated for landing.

From information received, it is believed that this attack was premeditated. Once the terrorist had been overpowered, he stated that "Today is the day of my death, I am doing this after my brother was killed."

The security guard on board who thwarted the terrorist prevented a large-scale attack, and in doing so saved many lives.

It is important to recognize the similarities in this attempted attack and that of the attacks perpetrated against the US on September 11th 2001.

The investigation continues.