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FBI looking for person who made fake hijacker call on Kona-Seattle flight

Search continues for caller who falsely identified a passenger as a possible hijacker

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:03 p.m. HST, Jan 18, 2013

SEATTLE » Military jets scrambled to escort an Alaska Airlines flight into Seattle and authorities took a passenger off the plane Thursday night, after a caller told the FBI that a possible hijacker was aboard, officials said.

FBI agents interviewed but did not arrest the passenger aboard the flight from Kona, Hawaii.

“We’re not anticipating an arrest,” Seattle FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich said late Thursday night.

Two F-15 jets from the Oregon Air National Guard escorted Flight 819 in to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after a threat call was received at the Honolulu FBI office.

Agents talked to the unidentified man for nearly two hours, Dietrich said. She described him as cooperative.

“I can tell you any threats or tips we receive we take seriously in case they’re a credible threat,” she said earlier. “We certainly get a number of calls that turn out to be not credible.”

The agency’s focus now switches to the caller. 

A caller told the Honolulu FBI office on Thursday afternoon that a man aboard the flight was a possible hijacker, said FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu. 

Simon declined to provide any details about the caller.

“We reserve the right to investigate what appears to be a hoax phone call,” he said late Thursday night. “We’ll let the world know if any charges are filed.

As of noon today the FBI had not made any arrests in the case, but Simon said the agency "absolutely" wants to know who made the call.

“The FBI gets lots of hoax phone calls but something that rises to this level is not something that we’re going to take lightly. A hoax phone call of this nature wastes a lot of resources.”

Making a false statement to the FBI is a federal crime, he noted.

FBI agents, Port of Seattle police and Transportation Security Administration personnel were waiting for the passenger in Seattle, Dietrich said.

Officers boarded the jet through rear stairs and removed the man from the plane, airline spokesman Paul McElroy said. The passenger had been seated at the back of the aircraft and “slept most of the flight,” he added.

The flight crew was aware of the threat but reported no unusual behavior, McElroy said, adding law enforcement made the decision to scramble the military jets.

Passengers deplaned normally after the man was removed. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said airport K-9 dogs then checked the plane but found nothing amiss. 

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hikine wrote:
The caller should be jailed for a long time. Was it either a vengeful girlfriend or someone that really hates him.
on January 18,2013 | 01:45AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Yeah the caller should be investigated.
on January 18,2013 | 05:10AM
Anonymous wrote:
I bet it was Lennay Kekua. She is a mean one.
on January 18,2013 | 10:29AM
AlohaKakou wrote:
on January 18,2013 | 11:23AM
Ripoff wrote:
maybe lol
on January 18,2013 | 12:50PM
I hope the federal agents treated the passenger respectfully who must have felt embarassed to deplane with the law enforcement officials in front of the other passengers. I've been on two flights where passengers were escorted off the plane, and everyone else was staring at them. As far as the caller, have this guy file a law suit against him/her.
on January 18,2013 | 07:36AM
primowarrior wrote:
Not sure what position military jets take when they escort a passenger plane, but if they could be seen from the cabin, I can imagine how unnerving it could have been to some of the passengers as the ultimate purpose of having them there is to shoot the plane down if it becomes a threat.
on January 18,2013 | 08:55AM
Oahuan wrote:
The caller probably saw all the attention Manti was getting regarding the hoax and wanted to get in on the action.
on January 18,2013 | 11:40AM
islandsun wrote:
Make the caller pay for the cost to scramble the jets.
on January 18,2013 | 12:38PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Somebody's going to get a really big bill really soon. It won't take long to track down that caller since the caller named the alleged hijacker.
on January 18,2013 | 02:46PM
lowtone123 wrote:
Has to be someone he knows. The caller knew his name and the fact he was aboard that flight. Did the flyer have a beef with someone?
on January 18,2013 | 03:13PM
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