Friday, February 20, 2004

You know things are bad when

the pilot says "we're turning back due to mechanical troubles" to AVOID upsetting the passengers...

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Law enforcement agents were questioning two passengers who were removed from a Moroccan-bound jetliner that was diverted to Bangor, officials said Friday.

The Royal Air Morac flight, which had left New York's Kennedy International Airport Thursday evening, resumed its trip to Casablanca early Friday after it was refueled and the remaining passengers were rescreened.

The FBI identified one of the removed passengers as 27-year-old investment banker Zubiar Ali Ghias, who had been reported missing to Chicago police last Saturday.

The second passenger, whose name was not released, was sitting next to Ghias, Bangor police Sgt. James Owens said.

Bangor police removed both from the flight and took them to the FBI's Bangor office, Owens said. Neither was under arrest, he said.

Tony Caruso, assistant director of Bangor International Airport, also said two people were removed from the flight.

FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said she knew only that Ghias was talking to federal agents but that it was possible other passengers were being questioned. "It would make sense that we would interview a number of people," she said.

Ghias was cooperating with the continuing investigation, she said.

Flight 201 had 92 people aboard before it was diverted, landing in Bangor about four hours after it took off, Marcinkiewicz said.

It was not immediately clear why the plane was diverted.

Caruso said the pilot first told passengers that the Boeing 767 had mechanical troubles "so the passengers wouldn't get upset."

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