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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Life and Style
life
News
‘The Graduate’, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, was directed by Nichols in his purple period
people
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

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager