The group of Afghan hijackers granted permission by the High Court to stay in the UK say they are educated people who do not want to “sponge” off the state. In a statement, the nine asylum seekers said they were desperate to be allowed to work and contribute to UK society. They also apologised to passengers on the flight they hijacked to Stansted in 2000, for the fear they had caused.
Tony Blair has said the decision not to return the men to Afghanistan is “an abuse of common sense”. Six years ago the men hijacked an Ariana Boeing 727 that was on an internal flight in Afghanistan, saying they were escaping the Taleban.
They forced the plane to fly to Stansted airport, in Essex, which led to a four day stand-off and eventually asylum applications by 78 people on board. “We do realise that for the other people on that plane the hijack was terrifying and we regret causing such fear in the hearts of others,” the nine men said in the statement issued through a west London law centre. “But we did it because we were desperate and we did not believe we could all get away safely in any other way,” We want people to realise that we understand the shock and even outrage against us and what we did
Brothers Ali and Mohammed Safi were jailed along with Abdul Shohab, Taimur Shah, Nazamuddin Mohammidy, Abdul Ghayur, Mohammed Kazin, Mohammed Showaib and Reshad Ahmadi in 2001. Appeal judges quashed their convictions in May 2003 but insisted that their decision was “not a charter for future hijackers”.
Oh, no, I’m sure of that…