Passengers boarded the plane following usual procedures at the Karachi International Airport. Because of highly alert security inside airport premises, all of the passengers felt extremely relaxed and secure. The flight was already loaded with passengers as it had reached Karachi via Bombay and was scheduled to fly towards New York.
Four men dressed in security uniforms entered the airport in a van. Their vehicle seemed like an airport security van and nothing seemed suspicious about these four “security guards”. Around 6:00 am, they crossed the check point and rushed towards the boarding stairway of PAN AM Flight 73.
Yeah, that’s right! These guys were going to hijack this aircraft. These hijackers crossed the stairway in a hurry, rushed inside the aircraft and announced their entrance with gun shots. After settling things down inside the airplane, they announced that the plane has been hijacked and they have some demands which must be fulfilled.
Control Tower gained sense of airplane hijacking and immediately informed the crew members present in the cockpit. After receiving this information, Pilot and Flight Engineer along with Co-Pilot fled away from a secret hatch. No no, they didn’t get frightened; but they fled away from the aircraft in order to prevent the airplane from being flown according to the hijackers’ demand. Pretty clever, huh?
After gaining control of the aircraft, when the crew members escaped from the cockpit, hijacker Zayd Hassan Abd Al-Latif Masud Al Safarini (the boss) found himself in a very delicate position. He realized that he has no choice but to negotiate with the concerned authorities.
The negotiations were first started with PAN AM officials. Later on, Pakistani government officials also joined in. During the negotiations, the hijackers presented their three demands:
- They wanted a flying crew for their airplane and said that the crew must be Arabic.
- Uninterrupted flight towards Cyprus.
- Release of their companions held in the prison of Cyprus.
Now on the other hand, Cyprus Government refused any sort of involvement in this issue and announced that if this plane flies towards Cyprus air space, they will never allow this to land in their territory!
In his frustration, Zayd Hassan shot an Indo-American passenger and threw his body out of the plane. He announced the deadline till 7:00 pm for the authorities to fulfill his demands. At 7:00 pm when he saw no progressive actions being taken from the concerned officials, he extended the deadline to 11:00 pm. Actually this delay was being made deliberately by the authorities, because they had a surprise for these hijackers
A survivor of this attack, explains the scene when that Indo-American passenger was being shot. Check out this video below:
Around 9:00 pm, the power units of PAN AM Flight 73 failed down due to which the airplane went dark. Hijackers panicked and sensed that an action has started against them. In effort to blow themselves up, they started shooting aimlessly in different directions. Due to dark, they were not able to see what was happening inside or outside the plane.
They kept shooting in panic and didn’t even know who they are shooting at. During this panicky situation, some lucky passengers managed to open the emergency door and escaped safely.
The authorities kept delaying the negotiation proceedings because they wanted it to be dark around the airport as they had already planned a commando raid on these radical idiots. Once the time was right, SSG Commandos were on scene. As a result of quick planning, stunning tactics and swift action, SSG stormed the plane, killing one and capturing two of the hijackers within matter of seconds. Finally, the fourth hijacker tried to escape with passengers but got captured.
Out of 380 passengers, 20 lost their lives during this hijacking. Once again, SSG saved more than 300 lives and got rid of those radicals.