Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD

Sweden hijacking suspect trained in U.S.

An undated passport photo of Kerim Chatty
An undated passport photo of Kerim Chatty  

VASTERAS, Sweden -- A man arrested while trying to board a jetliner here while carrying a concealed weapon had flunked out of flight school in the United States, officials said Saturday.

Kerim Chatty, 29, was arrested Thursday after authorities found a gun in his carry-on baggage, police spokesman Ulf Palm told CNN. Chatty was trying to board a flight for Birmingham, England on the Irish discount carrier Ryanair. (Full Story)

Chatty was being held on a preliminary charge of planning to hijack a plane and illegal possession of a firearm after he was detained Thursday.

The Swedish citizen of Tunisian origin attended the North American Institute of Aviation in Conway, South Carolina, five or six years ago, school president Bob Sunday said.

Chatty was expelled for lack of progress in the program, he said.

"He wasn't a very good student," Sunday added.

Vasteras airport manager Mikael Nilsson said security officials found the gun during routine screening.

Some of the 188 other passengers on the Boeing 737-800 were planning to attend an Islamic conference in Birmingham.

Chatty is to appear in court Monday or Tuesday to face preliminary charges of attempted hijacking or illegal possession of a firearm, Palm said. He said Chatty is being held at police headquarters in Vasteras, about 40 miles west of Stockholm and will be questioned Sunday.

Under Swedish law, if charges are not filed within two weeks, Chatty must be released.

"It's a very hectic investigation," Palm said. "We need to gather enough evidence to be sure that he is not let free at this point in time."

Sunday said Chatty was enrolled in classes to learn to fly aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds, such as Cessnas or Pipers. He said the school does not train students to fly commercial jets.

An FBI spokesman said Saturday the bureau can offer no information on the case.

A State Department official said, "The investigation is in the hands of Swedish authorities, and we are prepared to cooperate."

Though Chatty did not request an attorney, Chief Public Prosecutor Thomas Hajjstrom of the International Prosecution Authority in Uppsala has assigned one.

Police said Chatty has a record of misdemeanors that includes theft and assault.

A number of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks attended flight schools in the United States.

-- CNN Correspondent Kathleen Koch and Producer Eden Pontz contributed to this report. .




Back to the top