Did Moroccan migrants use Facebook to hatch jet landing plot?
Did migrants use Facebook to hatch jet landing plot? Moroccans who forced their plane into emergency landing so they could illegally enter Spain may have planned the scheme over social media, officials believe
- Their flight from Morocco was diverted to Mallorca after a passenger feigned ill
- He claimed to have slipped into a diabetic coma and was taken to hospital
- Amid the confusion on the Air Arabia Maroc aircraft, 22 people escaped
Migrants may have plotted on Facebook to force their plane into an emergency landing so they could illegally enter Spain.
Their flight from Morocco was diverted to Mallorca after one passenger allegedly feigned illness, claiming to have slipped into a diabetic coma.
Once the Air Arabia Maroc aircraft was on the tarmac, he and a friend were taken to hospital.
But amid the confusion 22 people managed to escape.
Spain’s national news agency EFE reported yesterday that officials were probing whether the emergency landing had been organised on Facebook.
The outlet said it had gained access to a group called Brooklyn created by young Moroccans that contained posts describing plans similar to Friday’s incident.
Aina Calvo (centre), Spanish central government delegate in Balearic Islands, talks to media in Palma de Mallorca, Majorca island, Spain after 12 fugitive passengers were arrested
Spanish security forces and search some other travelers who ran away from an Air Arabia’s plane, on route from Casablanca, Morocco, to Istanbul
Planes are seen at Palma de Mallorca airport as a search of the runways is underway for a group of passengers who fled from an international flight after a medical emergency landing between Morocco and Turkey in Palma, Balearics
One, published in July, reportedly said: ‘All Brooklyn guys should book a ticket on a plane to Turkey and fly over Spain.’ The post also contained references to someone feigning illness.
Footage of Friday night’s drama showed the passengers pushing past staff at a plane exit door.
Police have arrested 12 people and charged them with ‘facilitating illegal immigration’, including nine of those who escaped, another who fought with an official on the plane, as well as the ‘sick’ passenger and his companion.
An investigation is open, with the remaining escapees still at large. All are Moroccan nationals except for one who is described as Palestinian.
The flight, which originated in Casablanca, was scheduled to head for Istanbul, Turkey.
‘Such events have never taken place before at any airport in Spain,’ said Aina Calvo, the Spanish government’s representative in the Balearic Islands.
‘All options are still on the table.’
None of the passengers have claimed asylum, she added.
Details of Friday’s daring ruse, which shuttered one of the country’s busiest airports for more than four hours, emerged late on Saturday.
The man accused of feigning a diabetic coma told medics he was fine when he got to the island’s Son Llatzer hospital (pictured: members of the civil guard on the runway where the escape took place)
The incident sparked air traffic chaos, with officials forced to divert some 60 national and international flights.
The National Police and the Civil Guard, Spain’s two national police forces, are involved in the manhunt.
Jorge Campos, a local MP for hard right-wing party Vox, hit at the Spanish government, accusing Madrid of being soft on illegal immigration.
‘We’re defenceless,’ he said. ‘It’s a disgrace.’
Footage of Friday night’s drama showed the passengers appearing to push past medical and airline staff at a plane exit door after a brief struggle
Majorca is increasingly a key destination for people smugglers who help illegal migrants reach the island by boat from north Africa,
Moroccan asylum-seekers also try to enter Europe by making the dangerous 10-mile sea crossing from their homeland to Gibraltar using speed boats, jet skis and even rubber dinghies.
In December 2017, police arrested a Moroccan pensioner after discovering him trying to smuggle a 12-year-old African boy into the Spanish enclave of Melilla inside the dashboard of his car.
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