False Hijacking Threat Grounds American Airlines Flight

A hijacking threat received by a hotel clerk led to American Airlines Flight 24 being grounded for over two hours at the San Francisco International Airport on August 19th. A hotel clerk in Alameda, a smaller town located across the San Francisco bay from the airport, received a phone call from an unknown male. He delivered an unprovoked rant over the phone, and told the clerk that Flight 24 was going to be hijacked. The clerk dismissed the information until he found out, through an Internet search, that the flight in question was going to be departing shortly

The FBI responded quickly after receiving the information from the clerk. The plane was moved off of the runway and to a more secluded location. Passengers were removed slowly from the plane and searched by the security team. Witnesses report that a law enforcement official removed a large black garbage bag from one of the overhead bins while the passengers were waiting. Two passengers were escorted from the plane in handcuffs, but were quickly released. No one was carrying any weapons or prohibited items, and no one was held overnight for questioning.

The plane was searched by local police officers and nothing suspicious was found. The FBI have since then declared the hijacking a hoax, since no credible information about the original caller or proof of anything unusual on the plan was found. Law enforcement agencies and the TSA chose to take this threat seriously, and the passengers stayed calm and understanding throughout the procedure. The plane was bound for New York, and passengers were allowed to rebook their flights once they had cleared the security sweep. Police have not yet determined the identity of the caller who phoned in the false threat, but Federal officials explained to local newspapers that calling in a false terroristic threat is considered a felony.

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