Hijack suspect had flight training in US

Did Kerim Chatty plan to crash into an American embassy in Europe?

Fears of a terrorist attack close to the anniversary of 11 September mounted yesterday when it emerged that an armed man arrested at a Swedish airport had received pilot training in the US.

Kerim Chatty, a 29-year-old Swedish citizen with a Tunisian father, was held on Thursday after a pistol was found in his hand luggage at Vaesteren airport near Stockholm. He was trying to board a Ryanair flight to Stansted.

Yesterday, as Chatty was being questioned for a third day by Swedish detectives, a military intelligence source told Reuters: "We know for sure that the plan was to crash the plane into a US embassy in Europe." Four other members of his cell, one an explosives expert, were being sought, said the source.

The same allegations were repeated by CIA sources to another news agency, but confusion quickly arose. Margareta Linderoth, director of Sweden's Sapo national security police, called the reports "false information", saying: "I deny it absolutely." The CIA sources also withdrew their claims, although Reuters said it stood by its report.

Ms Linderoth confirmed, however, that Chatty had attended a flight training course in South Carolina between September 1996 and June 1997. Although Swedish police said he did not complete the course, it was a chilling echo of 11 September, when hijackers who trained at US flight schools crashed airliners into the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. A fourth aircraft went down in Pennsylvania while heading for a target in Washington.

The scare is sure to tighten nerves around the world, and particularly in the US, as next Wednesday's anniversary approaches. Some schools in Manhattan will be closed, and travellers are expected to stay away from commuter trains and buses as well as scheduled flights. Several airlines have cancelled flights on the day.

The motives of Chatty, who has a Tunisian father and a Swedish mother, remain mysterious, but local newspapers discovered yesterday that he had a criminal record which included a firearms offence, theft and assault.

A friend of Chatty's told Expressen newspaper that he had made several trips abroad and had been under investigation by Sapo. After 11 September he was questioned by the security service to establish whether he had any contacts within al-Qa'ida.

"He wanted to participate in jihad, but not in a random group," said the friend. "He was more into ideas about going to Chechnya and fighting the Russians. He talked a lot about Chechnya, as well as listening to speeches on tapes."

The 29-year-old's lawyer, Nils Uggla, said: "He is denying that this is about hijacking or any terrorist action." Chatty had "a good explanation" why he brought the gun on board the Ryanair plane.

Although Chatty had been widely described as a devout Muslim, said the lawyer, he had discussed religion with his client, and "his religious background has nothing to do with this at all. It is irrelevant.

"He is almost experiencing this as a religious persecution. Don't forget that he has a Swedish mother, was born here and has lived here all his life. He thinks that if both his parents were Swedish, there would never had been the same dimension to all this."

Mr Uggla added that Chatty regretted causing trouble for the 20 people booked on the same flight who also were detained for questioning and later released. All were travelling together to an Islamic conference in Birmingham.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Java Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

SAP Functional Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £45,000 - £55,000.

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Functional ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn