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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  March 29, 2016 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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this? >> well, the good thing right here now is that the plane is on the ground. i mean, it's a horrible situation, hijacking. but when it's on the ground, it's at least one step for authorities because of course they can try to deal with it. sometimes you have these things and they break when they're in the air. so it is on the ground. they can block the plane with vehicles so it can't take off. and then you can deal with it in a static situation. try to reach the hijacker by phone. does he have a bomb, is there more than one hijacker, is there really a bomb, does he have firearms, who is he, what does he want? and you know, try to take it from there. but if it's on the ground and static, don't let it leave no matter what he demands, no matter what he threatens. you've got to keep the plane there because you can't deal with it if it's --
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>> well, there are reports, jim, that -- and again, this is unverified. but we're getting this report, that the hijackers have offered to release women and children. does that give you any indication as to i guess you know, the chaos that could be happening on the plane at this hour? >> right. and they'll be making all kinds of demands. you know, if you come near the plane, we'll blow it up. if you do this and that. you've got it get it still. you've got to get it stopped because you can't allow it to take off. and then you can start dealing with them and see if they'll release anybody or if there's more than one. there are so many things for authorities to have to find out. but if he starts releasing people, you know, it's always a good sign but he could still harm them during the release. so it's a very difficult situation for cyprus authorities. i'm sure greek police are bringi
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bringing in specialists from all over greece to handle it. >> how do you attempt to break this down when there are reports that there could be a bomb on board? again, if you're the authorities, you're not sure. there could be possibly demands going back and forth. so how do you tackle something like that? >> well, step by step, betty, really. i mean, they want something, even though they're killers and mass murderers or, you know, could be terrorists. there could be a lot of things going on here. they could be criminals who just want to escape. we don't quite know the motive. but they want something. and so you start from there. and then you work step by step. but you try to tip the scales to your advantage, to the advantage of the lives that are at stake. and i go back to trying to stabilize it on the ground because if he takes off and he's in the air then it's really just
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more dangerous for everybody. if you can get it static, even though it's dangerous it lessens it. you might be able to talk to him for a while, might be able to move forces in to deal with him. might be able to storm the plane. he could blow up, some people could still survive. so all your odds are much better if you can keep it there. >> right. but what should the passengers be doing at this point? is this an opportunity for them now that they're safely on the ground to possibly storm, you know, these hijackers or even if they've gotten their hands inside the cockpit? >> right. well, it's hard to say. you know, we used to say, well, you're going to comply with a criminal, don't try to fight. but those were when criminals we thought's motive were mostly financial, they wanted to esc e escape, they won't necessarily try to kill you. but in this era of just mass murder and terror their whole goal may be just to kill you.
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so you have to look for your opportunity. you're right. maybe jump them, maybe escape. >> i'm going to ask you to stand by for just a second. also your signal was kind of going in and out. we have alistair jamison with nbc news in the london bureau. alistair, what information do you have about this hijacking? >> yeah, absolutely. one thing we have had in the last few minutes is confirmation from the airline that this plane was carrying 81 passengers and crew. it was en route from alexandria to cairo. and has now been on the ground in larnaca for around about an hour this morning. and the airline's saying that negotiations are under way. no more information from egyptair at the moment as to what that means. but we are seeing information from lawmakers and officials on the ground in cyprus saying that those behind this have offered to release some of the
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passengers, women and children, if police and law enforcement move away from the aircraft. that's all unconfirmed information. nbc news has not been able to confirm that but that's come from a lawmaker on the ground there. in cyprus. so we don't know any more about what is behind this hijacking, what the aims are, what they're trying to do there. but we do know at least that the plane is safely on the ground and egyptair confirming that discussions, negotiations are indeed under way. this was flight ms181. it's a domestic plane from alexandria in the west of the north coast of egypt en route to cairo in the northeast. and its diversion has taken it a few hundred miles to the north across the mediterranean to cyprus, landing on the south side of the island. and it would have been at that time in the morning probably a jet around 2/3 full.
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we think it was an airbus a-320 according to the airline. so with only 81 passengers, not a full plane by any means. and for a domestic flight we imagine most of those passengers likely to be egyptian. so not clear at all what the aims are of the hijackers on the ground in cyprus. larnaca also a fairly busy airport. the main hub on that side of the island for flights in and out. it's not clear whether the plane is on the main runway or whether it's in an area to the side of the airport where police and emergency services can get to it. and that will be key i think to how this unfolds. i know that in other countries, for example the united kingdom with hijacked planes they're taken to normally a dedicated airport in the case of london that's stanstead airport because it has a larger apron area
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around the runway, has more space for authorities and negotiators to do their work. so it's unclear what space and what facilities people on the ground are working with here. now, that route, by the way, alexandria to cairo, dozens of flights a day between those two points. this would have been a very routine flight. and in terms of security for getting on board the plane just the same as it would be for an international flight. the usual standards of screening and so on. so no -- nothing to suggest it's -- it's no easier to get on this plane than it would be from an international flight that you or i would be taking to and from egypt. egypt air is saying it's going to release a statement in due course and we should have some more information we can update you with then. betty. >> there's a lot of information coming in very quickly. i'm just looking now on nbcnews.com and the first line there says a hijacker who said he had an explosive belt diverted this egyptair domestic flight. have you heard anything about
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that? because there was initially word that there was a bomb on board and now we're hearing that possibly one of the hijackers, we don't know how many, are on board, had maybe an explosive belt. >> yes, we are hearing those reports as well. we don't have that confirmed from the airline. but we are seeing those reports that the hijackers either claim to have an explosive belt or in fact have explosives on board. now, obviously, that changes the dynamic a great deal in terms of how law enforcement on the ground there in larnaca are dealing with this. and the initial question has to be raised, well, what type of device is this? is it a suicide belt? is it a device that's activated or ready to go on the plane? we just don't know. but that makes a different -- that will alter the game for law enforcement on the ground and also raises that question about the security alexandria, if this
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was a device brought on board how did it get there? of course what we don't know is whether the hijacker has entered the flight deck at any point and if so how they got in to the flight deck. on the airbus a320 you'll remember from the germanwings accident last year it's a locked cockpit door normally and requires a pin security code to get access. it would be interesting to see how this hijacking unfolded, betty. >> that's a very good question there. lots of questions, in fact. i want to bring back jim cavanaugh because he is on the phone as well. former agent with the atf. jim, so we are learning that there could possibly be a hijacker on board with an explosive belt. we don't know if there are multiple hijackers, but alastair did bring up a good point. on a plane like this usually the cockpit door is locked shut. so is it possible that this person, this hijacker was able to get in, or is it just one of those situations that maybe, you know, they're hearing that
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there's a bomb on board and the pilot says, you know what, we've got to get this plane on the ground as soon as possible? >> exactly. alastair had a great report there. he summarized a lot of the -- but one or more hijackers could stand up in the passenger compartment of the plane if the cockpit is locked and announce they have a bomb or display a suicide belt which then the flight attendants can, you know, call the captain and say this guy here with a suicide belt on and he's threatening to detonate it. the pilot may decide we need to land right away. puts down in cyprus or makes them communicate with the hijacker or hijackers about landing the plane. he might not have enough fuel to go too far. he might have to put it down. or it could have been a breached cockpit. like alastair says, you still don't know is it a real bomb, how many actors are present.
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what are they demanding. what are they threatening? you've kind of got to put all that together. and you have to bring all the enforcement together to start talking with the guy. one thing you do have is a person making demands, a person communicating. that's where you begin. as desire dire as the situation is, the person is making demands, communicating. start there. see if you can save as many lives as possible. >> that's a really good point. you just spoke about this earlier. the fact the plane is on the ground is a big positive in this scenario, especially when you have 81 people on board. >> exactly. if you can keep it there, you know, fire trucks blocking it, whatever you've got to do, you keep it there, then you're going to be making all kinds of demands to move the fire trucks or i'll blow it up, to do this or i'll blow it up. you're going to have to slow that down a little bit.
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of course at any time if he really has a bomb or they really have a bomb he could blow it up. the passengers have no chance if you let it get up in the air and he has bombs. you're giving all of them a slight chance better than -- at least if you're there and something blows up, you have firefighters and police who can stop them. the plane is on the ground in cyprus. and if authorities move quickly they can start to deal with it and maybe save hopefully all or some of the lives that are in jeopardy at the moment. >> there are initial reports saying the hijacker, possibly multiple hijackers, have offered to release women and children. again, this is not verified. this is just information coming
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in. as we're watching this unfold and thinking about the scenarios that could be happening right now in our heads, what do you know about this plane? we're being told it could be an airbus a320. help us understand the layout of this particular plane. is it a big plane? is it a small plane? there are 81 passengers on board. >> yeah. alastair said it wasn't a full flight. those are big aircraft. and of course there's enough fuel on a modern jet aircraft. you have also the danger with fire from the jet fuel and that they could penetrate gas tanks depending on where people are. planes are not made to be around explosives, obviously. they're not built that way. certainly not passenger planes. there's a lot of additional dangers on board. it's a very confined space for
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the hijackers out there. also very confined space for police and operators and military specialists. now, they practice all the time but that doesn't mean it's not a complete challenge for special operations for police or military to have to deal with someone. >> all right, jim, thank you so much for that information. again, we want to let our viewers know that we are following breaking news of an egyptian air flight 181 with 81 people on board. that plane has been hijacked. we'll continue to follow this story. or stop to find a bathroom? cialis for daily use is approved to treat both erectile dysfunction and the urinary symptoms of bph, like needing to go frequently, day or night. tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medicines, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, or adempas for pulmonary hypertension, as it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. do not drink alcohol in excess. side effects may include headache, upset stomach, delayed backache or muscle ache. to avoid long-term injury, get medical help right away for an erection lasting more than four hours.
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egyptianair flight ms181 has been hijacked and it has landed in cyprus. that plane was heading from alexandria to cairo but somewhere along that route there was word that the pilot said there was a threat from a passenger claiming to have an explosive belt and that then
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forced the plane to land. again, a lot of information coming in to the msnbc newsroom and we're trying to verify a lot of it. but what we know is there are 81 people on board. that includes passengers and crew. i want to take you now live to alastair jaimieson with nbc news in our london bureau. again, alastair, we're learning that the pilot reported that this passenger had an explosive belt and that's what caused this plane to land. we don't know if there's more than one possible hijacker on board or even the details about this one person the pilot is citing here. what have you figured out? >> that's right. that's what egyptian civil aviation authority has said, that it was the pilot who radioed ahead to say that a passenger claimed to have a suicide belt, an explosive suicide belt and he was being forced to land across the
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mediterranean in cyprus and that cypriot authorities are now dealing with that passenger. that statement incidentally seems to suggest we are dealing with only one hijacker but that's not been confirmed by the authorities in cyprus. we don't quite know. certainly the way that statement is worded suggests this is the action of one passenger. and reading between the lines from that statement, what seems to have happened is that the passenger has informed the pilot about this and the pilot has taken this decision to fly. there's no suggestion from that statement that the passenger has accessed the flight deck, gone into the cockpit. so it could be in this case that authorities are simply dealing directly with the hijacker, that the hijacker is not on the flight deck of this aircraft. now, we're seeing pictures from cypriot television of this
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aircraft at larnaca. it's parked away from the terminal where law enforcement can deal with it. regional television are reporting that the hijacker has allowed some of those passengers on board to be released. that information not confirmed by nbc news. but certainly that is what we've been hearing. >> that's some good news, alastair. earlier there were reports that the hijacker was saying, you know, perhaps i will let women and children go. now there are reports out there, again, not verified by nbc news but there are reports that possibly some of those passengers have been freed? >> that's right. that's what we're hearing. and whether that means -- whether that allows the negotiations to continue directly with the hijacker or whether that means the situation is nearly over we just don't know. but that's certainly the report that we're getting on the ground. just to recap, this flight was en route from burj al arab in alexandria to cairo. routine domestic flight. there are many of these a day between these two cities.
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a flight of around no more than two or three hours. it's an airbus a320 jet. standard airbus a320. capacity of roughly somewhere between 150 and 200. only 81 passengers on board this trouble according to egyptair. so the plane would have been around half full. and on a domestic flight mostly egyptian passengers we would imagine. there are some reports it could be other nationalities on board. again, nbc news unable to confirm this at this stage. and egyptair has not released a breakdown of the nationalities on board. it hasn't said. but it is possible there are other nationalities on board. but the majority of passengers you would imagine on the domestic flight early in the morning would be domestic egyptian passengers en route from one city to the other. so the motive behind this diversion across the mediterranean to cyprus is not immediately clear.
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and we have yet to hear from law enforcement authorities on the ground in cyprus as to what if any demands this hijacker has made. and i think now we are seeing pictures from cypriot television there of the plane on the ground at larnaca airport. you can see it's well away from the terminal. but no sign of police or law enforcement activity anywhere close to the plane. and i guess as this situation plays out we may have more information from authorities in due course about what the next steps are in resolving this situation, betty. >> yeah. looking at that plane right there on the screen, if that indeed is the plane that was hijacked and landed there in cyprus, you could see on the side there it looks like the stairway for passengers to get off of the plane was nearby. so perhaps maybe some of those passengers were allowed to go, as we talked about there were some reports. i want to let you know, again,
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information is still coming in very rapidly into the msnbc newsroom. but the associated press is reporting that even though there's an unspecified number of women and children that were allowed to go free they are reporting this indeed did occur. possibly the hijacker has indeed let some of the passengers go. also citing another cyprus official saying it seems like there might be more than one hijacker and that there has been no demands made so far other than that police vehicles move away from the aircraft. again, this coming from the associated press. we are trying to verify all this information. but if that indeed is the case. now, this is file video right now for those of you watching. this is not the plane on the ground there in cyprus. this is file video of the airbus a320, the egyptair plane that we're talking about. the video that we saw a little bit earlier was from cyprus television, i believe, alastair. but as you can see -- and you even made mention of it. there was no police vehicles
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around. there were no law enforcement around. so that might coincide with exactly what we're hearing from the associated press that that was the only demand so far that police vehicles move away from the aircraft. again, for our viewers just joining in i just want to let you know that we are following breaking news of egyptair flight ms181 on the ground right there. you see the video of it right now in cyprus. it has been hijacked. 81 people on board. there are reports that some of those passengers have been allowed to go free. we do not know how many hijackers. there's word of at least one hijacker who had claimed to have a belt with explosives. again, all this information is coming in very quickly. we are continuing to follow every bit of it, and we're bringing you the latest as soon as it becomes available. right here on msnbc.
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what are you learning on your end about what is occurring here. >> in the last few minutes we've had an update from the airline. it's tweeting in arabic about this unfolding situation. the latest information from egyptair is that all those passengers on board that plane we're seeing on the ground in cyprus have been freed with the exception of a small number, five it says, who are not egyptian. five foreigners. and the cabin crew. they're still -- the flight attendants. they're still on board that plane. so egyptair saying all the passengers have been released
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from that plane in cyprus with the exception of five foreign nationals and the flight attendants. they're still on board. now, that -- we still haven't had that independently confirmed with the cypriot authorities but that's what the airline is saying. it presumably is getting the information directly from its aircraft there on the ground. so this plane was en route from burj al arab in the western part of egypt, alexandria, on a domestic trip across to cairo, around a two-hour journey, when a passenger told the pilot that he had a suicide belt on with explosives. the pilot was forced to divert to larnaca in cyprus across the mediterranean from the egyptian coast and it was a flight with only around 81 passengers on board an airbus a320. so a half empty flight. and it landed at around 10 minutes to 9:00 local time. it's around 10 minutes to 2:00
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a.m. eastern this morning. and since then authorities on the ground in larnaca have been dealing with the hijacker. as you said, betsy, we don't have confirmation of exactly how many hijackers, whether it's more than one, but the statements from egyptair and from law enforcement sources to nbc news do suggest it is only one hijacker on board. when we don't have from anyone is any indication of the motive behind this hijacking, what the person is trying to achieve and whether it was the hijacker that tried to take the plane to cyprus or whether the pilot chose to divert based on the information about having someone claiming to be wearing explosive belts on board. it could be that the pilot has chosen larnaca because it has lots of space around the terminal area where it is safe to park up the plane. and as we get more information from egyptian and cypriot
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sources, we should be able to know more in the coming hour about the well-being of those passengers on board the plane and those who've been released. the majority of those on board i would imagine on this domestic flight would be egyptian passengers. and the nationalities of the others, these foreigners that are still on board, that we don't know at this time, betty. >> all right. and i just want to verify, everyone has been freed of those 81 passengers except five who are foreigners and then five crew members. is that what you have heard? >> that's the latest statement from egypt air. yes. that's what we've heard. >> so a bit of good news in all of this as this has unfolded as we've been watching this plane here on the ground. and i guess that makes a lot of sense now that we're seeing that stairway there next to the plane because obviously a lot of passengers were able to get off and get away from this developing situation there on the plane. so again, 81 passengers
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originally on board there, passengers and crew, all have been freed except for five foreigners on the plane and five crew members. now, we don't know how many possible hijackers are on the plane, but of course as you can imagine egyptair is probably combing through the logs to see exactly who was listed on that flight, and it's just a matter of math to determine who's still on that plane and how many people in total, and that will give them the amount of possible hijackers. and of course that information should be coming hopefully very soon. at this point i want to bring in jim cavanaugh. he's a former atf agent. as you had mentioned, part of the positive in all of this is one, that the plane was able to land safely. now we're hearing a little more good news, that all of the passengers on board except for five foreigners and five crew members have been set free. of course for those five on board, those five passengers as well as those five crew members, this has probably got to be a pretty dicey time for them because they're just wondering what is going to happen next. >> well, that's right.
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it is good news. i mean, it sounds like 76 lives might have been in the balance have been released. now you have the five foreign nationals that maybe a hijacker or hijackers have identified and singled out as alastair said and five crew. we don't know if the cockpit door's still locked and the pilot and co-pilot are in there or pilot and co-pilot and naflthor or flight attendant. we don't know if that door's open, if the cockpit's secure and we don't know where the five passengers are. what likely hijackers and killers do is they'll huddle them up close in a place so they can control them, especially if it's one person. but it's not good that he's -- or she has identified foreign nationals because it goes to targeting. it seems like there's some people that they have a grudge
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against or want to harm or want to hold and the others they want to release. so their mission is still ongoing. they still want to keep the control of the plane. that's a reason to keep the crew. and of course they have some people that they are targeting. so the issue here, betty, and the thing for police and military negotiators is talk, talk, talk to the guy as your police operations are ongoing, to keep that static and not let that plane leave and start talking, what do you want, what are you here for, what is your message, what do you want to say, what group are you a part of. what does that group want? you don't have to kill these people. you don't have to kill them right now. let's talk a little bit. let's find out what's going on. and you know, as you work through, that you know you can get into more and more things. it's very dicey with a guy with a bomb. >> right. and plus, jim, we don't know if it's more than just one person possibly with a bomb. there's just that one report of
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one passenger saying that that person had a bomb on him, possible explosive belt. but i want to ask you at this point, we're over an hour into this from -- especially from when this flight took off. and we have not heard any demands so far as to what these hijackers wanted. is that an indication of the situation that's happening on the ground, or is that a protection kind of thing for law enforcement there to keep that information under wraps until they get this situation under control? >> yeah, well, they're not really interested -- law enforcement is not interested in publicly announcing demands at the moment. they have their plate full. and what they've got to do is put all their energy into securing the aircraft and negotiating and trying to get these people -- i've been in command when we 2340eshd with a guy with a bomb strapped on his
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chest. a mental defective but not a terrorist or state prisoner. but the man had the bomb strapped on his chest for eight hours while we tried to talk him into taking it off and surrendering. so it gets very dicey. that man was alone. he didn't have hostages. so we were able to move people away and secure it. here you have hostages. that ups the ante quite a bit. you've got to be methodical. you've got to bring all your forces to bear. the police have to be really on their "a" game here. but there's been breaks. i want to say as we've been talking and as al aastaire's been reporting, the plane landed. that's break number one p people have been released. that's break number two. the situation is static. that's break number three. they're making demands. there's communication. at least to a rudimentary degree that we know of. by making demands. so there's been some breaks in a very, very dire situation.
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so you've got to exploit that and you've got to keep that momentum going for law enforcement. >> and i just want to update some nukz now. we are getting confirmation from egyptair that there are still four foreigners on board and seven crew members. so of the 81 passengers and crew on board, all of them have been set free except for four foreigners and seven crew members. no word on how many possible hijackers are on board. except we know of one at least. and there was reports that the pilot said that person claimed to have an explosive belt and at that point the plane then went to cyprus to land. which was smart thinking if this pilot -- if that cockpit wasn't stormed and this pilot wasn't in any danger to get to this airport. there's got to be some advantages because this is a big airport there. >> it's a big airport. i mean, cyprus, the greek police have -- they have good trained police officers.
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they have dealt with situations before. i'm sure they're going to get a lot of help from egyptair, egyptian authorities. but we don't even know when a guy stands up and says he has a suicide belt, i mean, you can assume it's real because you're going to deal with it that way but you don't even know if it's real. what you have to do is just calculate that into your command decisions when you're the on-scene commander. you would never let the plane leave. if the plane left he could crash the plane and kill everybody. >> there are a lot of questions and we're going to continue to ask them and provide answers as best possible. but just for our viewers, egyptian air flight 181 has been hijacked. it's on the ground. we'll continue to follow the latest on this and bring it to you right here on msnbc.
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we have more breaking news on that egyptair flight ms181 that has been hijacked. let's go right now to alastair
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jaimieson with nbc news in the london bureau. what's the latest there, alastair? >> that's right, betty. the latest we're hearing from egyptian civil aviation authorities is that all of those passengers apart from four foreigners, four non-egyptian nationals, have been released. so all the passengers off that egyptair plane on the ground there in cyprus except for four non-egyptians. we don't know what nationality the remaining four on board are. they're on the plane along with the seven members of crew. earlier we said there was five plus the crew. the numbers have slightly adjusted now. it's four non-egyptian passengers on board that diverted airbus a320 on the ground. it was on a domestic flight from alexandria to cairo and it's diverted into larnaca airport in cyprus. authorities on the ground there are dealing with the situation. the passenger claimed he had a suicide belt on with explosives. no information on whether that claim is true. but all except four passengers
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off that plane. and no indication either from authorities about the motivation for this hijacking, what was behind it or how many hijackers are on board. >> we're going to continue to follow this story. and just one other note. the airport is on lockdown at this moment. stay tuned for the latest breaking news on this egyptian plane that has been hijacked.
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welcome back, everybody. we continue to follow this breaking news out of cyprus, where egyptair ms181 has been hijacked. it is on the ground there. a little bit of good news here. we understand all of the 81 passengers -- there were 81 passengers and crew on board. everyone but four foreigners and seven crew members have been freed. and we don't know exactly what the demands are of the hijackers, but we've been following this story for quite some time this morning and want to bring in jim cavanaugh to get his assessment of the situation. jim, we heard earlier that the
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only thing we knew from the hijacker, possibly multiple hijackers, is that they did not want any police nearby. but we did see some, as this video is plag playing out, some vehicles nearby. what does that tell you? >> it's very typical for people in a barricade situation to demand that you move back, that you move the police perimeter back. because they're afraid of a police operation, you know, coming in and assaulting them. so it's constant back and forth. the perimeter can be moved back and forth. and they still do not lose control of the situation. but it's all part of the negotiation. >> that's good. it sounds like it's a very fluid situation there. and some positive information, the fact that there are still four foreigners and seven crew members on board, which is not good news but the fact that the rest of them have been let go. that is great news. stay with us for more information. peptocopter! ♪ when cold cuts give your belly thunder,
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welcome back, everybody. as we follow breaking news of this egyptair flight ms181 that has been hijacked, we understand that it is on the ground in cyprus. the airport there is on lockdown. and here are the developments so far. we've been told that there were 81 passengers and crew on board. but since that time all of those passengers have been let go except for four foreigners and seven crew members. now, we do not know the details of the hijacker or multiple hijackers. the number of hijackers is still unknown at this hour. but we did get a report a little bit earlier that according to the pilot he was reporting that there was a threat from a passenger claiming to have an explosive belt who forced the plane to land. the good news is that the plane did land safely and some of those, many of those in fact, a majority of those passengers are off of that plane.
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now, what is happening on that plane at this hour? that is the big question. we do not know what these hijackers want. if there is even more than one person hijacking this plane. again, we do not know if there are multiple hijackers. there is just word of that one person. there have been no demands except we are learning from just reports here, unverified sources saying that the only demand so far is that police stay away from the plane. that plane is on the ground there in cyprus at larnaca there. and a little bit of good news about that is that this is a large airport there. so they do have personnel on the ground and police are speaking with this hijacker to try to talk him out of whatever is happening on that plane and end this peacefully. again, this was pretty much a regional flight. it was heading from alexandria to cairo, where it had to break away and land in cyprus due to
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this hijacking situation. initial reports that there was a suspected bomb on board, we don't know the extent of that either. but i want to bring in jim cavanaugh. he's a former atf agent. and he's been following that this morning. so jim, there are several positives in a situation that looked pretty bleak about an hour ago. >> right, betty. as you reported, and alastair, a lot of people released. maybe 75 or 76 people let off the plane. four foreigners being held. the cyprus authorities, they're being aided by worldwide intelligence. certainly our counterintelligence center in washington. cia. they're already learning identities of these passengers from the egyptianair manifest to find out who these four foreign nationals being held are, you know, from what country are they. so that's important and the security officials in those
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countries are going to want to know that. that goes back to the police wanting to know that too. it goes to motive of why are these people targeted. if they help them dialogue with the hijacker. a very dire situation. but he's making demands. standard barricade demands. move the perimeter back. and you work from that and try to keep him talking while you move your operators closer so you can maybe get close enough to save some lives or talk them into surrendering. it's very much an uphill battle. when you're talking suicidal, homicidal people with explosives or reported explosives, alleged explosives, but nevertheless that's what he's saying, or they're saying. so you know, people say you can't negotiate with terrorists. but you know, that's not really true. even the terrorists at the bataclan wanted to talk to the police. and that caused a delay of a couple of hours where they
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didn't just kill everybody and then just -- they wanted to talk to the police. >> the key is just to keep them talking and hopefully get them talked out of this situation that seems pretty dire at the moment for those four foreigners and seven crew members still on that plane. we'll continue to follow this breaking news of egyptair flight ms181 that has been hijacked.
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hijacked. it is on the ground there in cyprus. you're looking at video of that plane on the ground from just a little bit earlier. i want to take you now to alastair jamieson out of our london bureau. do you have any new details as to what's happening at this hour? >> we're hearing from authorities on the ground in both cyprus and egypt confirming that information we had that all but four passengers are off that plane. we don't know about their condition but we know that they're off. and we know that the four passengers who remain on board the plane are non-egyptian nationals. they are foreigners. but we don't know which nationality they are. they are remaining on awaircraf with the seven crew, routine domestic flight, around 81 passengers on board when one of those passengers told the flight crew that he had explosives in a
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suicide belt. that information passed on to the flight deck, who took the plane to larnaca airport on the south side of cyprus just across the mediterranean. and since then negotiations have been under way with the authorities there. there's no real information on what, if any, demands this hijacker has or indeed whether he sent out any specific demands. so we don't know what has motivated this incident this morning. and we understand from civil aviation groups in cyprus that more information might be available on that in due course. but for now it looks like the majority of those passengers are off that aircraft with the exception of four non-egyptian passengers, four foreigners on that domestic plane. and high on the minds of authorities will be the previous egypt air hijacking. it was 30 years ago -- 31, i
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believe. 1985, flights 648 between greece and cairo, that diverted to malta and ended in a bloodbath. so authorities will be very keen to avoid a repeat of that. many things have changed obviously since that era. but the dreadful ending to that incident will be high on the minds of authorities at both ends. now, the airline has said that the majority of those passengers are off with the exception of four, but what it has not released so far is the nationalities of those four remaining passengers, betty. >> it's really interesting. as we learn more about this and do discover the nationalities, there was four foreigners, and what that tells you about the hijacker's motive, if there is indeed multiple hijackers on this plane, especially to keep the foreigners on board and the crew members. does that mean that this plane could possibly be taking off again according to their demands? again, we don't know what the demands are.
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but to release everybody but four foreigners and seven crew members is very interesting. especially when there is no word at this hour of any demand. right? you haven't heard anything about a specific demand, have you? >> no. and at this stage it's not clear whether this is someone who genuinely has any device, any weapon, any explosive at all on board. and you would have to imagine, betsy, that if this passenger really did have some kind of weapon, something that could force the diversion of the plane, that is a remarkable security lapse. so it's not clear at all whether this person does in fact have anything with them or has just claimed that they do. and that will become clear in due course, betty. >> that is a big question. alastair, thank you so much for your information this morning. we'll be checking in with you very shortly. but i want to bring in jim cavanaugh, former atf agent. jim, alastair does make a very good point. if indeed this person who claims to -- well, we heard earlier from the pilot saying that
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according to reports that there was a threat by a passenger claiming to have an explosive belt. now, we don't know the extent of that explosive belt or if there are more than one possible hijacker. but if that were the case, if this hijacker or hijackers were able to get on board with explosive devices, that is a huge security lapse. >> oh, absolutely. it sure is. a huge security lapse. even if it's, you know, a belt that looks like a suicide belt or looks like a bomb. so dmarnds acommanders are asse this information you're discussing with alastair. in other words, is it one or more hijackers in if they can narrow that down, that's important to them. is there only one or is there more? >> but jim, hold on just a second. i want to stay on that point. they should have been able to have that narrowed down by now, right? because we know the numbers. we know there are four foreigners on board. we know there are seven crew members. you look at the log of 81 passengers and crew.
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and you just do simple math and that should tell you how many people are still on board once they have those names and they connect the dots, right? >> right. that's what they're doing to do right now. who's there, how many are there. if they can add that number and it's correct, but there's a lot of ifs there. could there have been someone hidden in there in if you can get a bomb on the plane maybe you can get somebody else on the plane. i'm not sure. but you've got to determine how many people are hijackers there. and you don't know who's an accomplice to the hijacker. could one of the four be an accomplice? you don't really know all that information. what you're trying to do as the police is find out who are the bad guys, what weapons did they have. is the only weapon they had the one they're displaying in the bomb or are they also brandishing a pistol? like i said you've got to get down to how many there are. you might be able to do what
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you're saying correct from the manifest and then you say okay, we have one guy, we believe, from the manifest, the only weapon he's displaying or saying he has is a bomb on a suicide belt. have you seen it? what's it look like? you're trying to assess the threat. so you can deal with it. it's very important for the commanders. jim, we're looking at video right now of earlier when we're watching passengers leave that plane in cyprus. it doesn't look like there's a mad dash and sheer panic. again, obviously i'm sure they're just extremely delighted to be getting off that plane and headed to safety there at the airport. but it does seem like a bit of a controlled situation. does that give you more clue as to what could be happening on board? >> it looks like you negotiate that, the release of all the passengers, because everybody is not running out of there in a panic. it looks like it'sn

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