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'Suspicious looking' man hauled off translatlantic flight

'Middle Eastern' passenger provokes American Airlines divert

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An American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to London this morning made an unscheduled stop at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport after a member of the flight crew "alerted security on the ground that there may be a suspicious person on board, and the decision was made to divert the flight", Flight International reports.

The man in question had "raised some eyebrows" aboard flight 136 by boarding the aircraft using an AA employee bus, thereby bypassing LAX security, even though he was on a private trip. A flight attendant who questioned him onboard was not satisfied he was an AA employee, and duly informed the pilot.

When the plane landed in NY at 4am, Transportation Security Administration operatives arrested the suspect, described as being of "Middle Eastern origin". He was questioned while the aircraft was searched and passengers rescreened, without result.

US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff later confirmed the man was an employee who was flying in a private capacity. He told CNN the incident may have been a "misunderstanding", adding: "I think the good news here, of course, is an alert crew sees something that's anomalous or seems questionable and they take action."

Flight 136 was cancelled, and passengers reassigned to other London-bound aircraft. ®

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