'Hijacker confessed under threat of castration'
By Justin Huggler in Jerusalem
[The Independent - 27 November 2002]:
The Arab-Israeli citizen accused of attempting to hijack an aircraft and fly it into a building said yesterday he never tried to seize the controls. Tawfiq Fukrasaid he only "confessed" when Turkish police threatened to castrate him.
Mr Fukra, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, is being held in a Turkish prison after being accused of trying to hijack an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul on 17 November. El Al portrayed the incident as proof of the efficiency of its security. Mr Fukra was wrestled to the floor by two security guards posing as passengers.
Mr Fukra claimed in an interview with Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper that he never tried to hijack the aircraft. He said instead he had analtercation with a stewardess.
Mr Fukra told Ha'aretz he was angry because, as an Arab, he had to endure extra security checks at Tel Aviv airport. "I was nervous on the flight," he said. "It was the first time I ever flew. I got up before landing and the stewardess yelled at me. I shouted back and the security guards pounced on me and I fell to the ground. I don't have any more memory of what happened."
There were wildly differing versions of events on the flight. Mr Fukra's versiontallies with some early accounts. But several passengers said they saw him try to break into the cockpit. Last week the Israeli government described the incident as a "terror attack".
Mr Fukra said he confessed under duress from Turkish interrogators. "They told me that they castrate anyone who doesn't co-operate with them. So I told them anything they wanted to hear," he said.