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FBI Agents to Meet Air India Flight With Suspicious Passenger Aboard

Aired February 28, 2002 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I want to update you on a developing story, where FBI agents are on the ground at New York's JFK Airport because they're waiting for a flight 101 of Air India on its way. Why? Because of a suspicious passenger on board, whose name apparently matches that of one on a international watch list. Of course, we would like to go now to get an update to Susan Candiotti. She's in Washington with more on this story. Hi there, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. We understand it is Air India flight 101. It is a 747, and we are told by a spokesman at Air India that there are 370 passengers aboard. That flight, as you indicated, was heading from London's Heathrow Airport and is on its way to JFK in New York. It is expected to land at about 5:00 this afternoon Eastern time.

According to an FBI spokesman, someone noted that the person aboard the plane had a name similar to the name of someone on an international watch list, and so, according to the FBI, in an abundance of caution, agents will be meeting that flight to meet and greet that individual, once they get off the plane, to take them aside and establish their identity.

Now, according to the FBI, they are not trying to raise too many red flags on this. However, they say you do have to check these things out, naturally. There are no reports, according to the FBI, of any trouble aboard that flight, And an official, a spokesman we talked to with Air India tells us, in their words, "this is being blown way out of proportion."

We do understand, according to the U.S. government, that no U.S. military jets will be escorting this plane, as has sometimes occurred in the past when there are reports, for example, of an unruly passenger. And again, FBI agents will be meeting this plane once it lands at JFK -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And Susan, you said no U.S. jets are escorting, but there is an Associated Press report that Canadian fighter jets may be escorting that plane. Would that be out of the ordinary?

CANDIOTTI: Well, it wouldn't be if that is accurate, and certainly we are working to confirm that report. But the U.S. at this time has no plans apparently to escort that jet. If and when that changes, of course, we will let you know. WHITFIELD: OK, thanks very much. Susan Candiotti from Washington there on an update of Air India flight 101 on its way to JFK Airport, being escorted, according to the Associated Press, by Canadian fighter jets because of a suspicion passenger on board.

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