Boeing 737 aircraft stuck in Iran creates headaches for Norwegian airline

The repair work on the Boeing 737 aircraft has encountered problems because international sanctions bar the airline from sending spare parts to Iran. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019

Boeing 737 aircraft stuck in Iran creates headaches for Norwegian airline

  • The aircraft was en route from Dubai to Oslo with 192 passengers and crew members on board when it carried out a ‘safety landing’
  • The Boeing 737 Max has been stuck on Iranian soil where the airline’s mechanics are trying to repair it

OSLO: Norwegian Air Shuttle said Friday one of its Boeing 737s has been stuck in Iran for three weeks after an unscheduled landing due to engine problems, as US restrictions reportedly create headaches for the airline and possibly passengers.
The aircraft was en route from Dubai to Oslo with 192 passengers and crew members on board when it carried out a “safety landing” in Shiraz in southwestern Iran because of engine trouble on December 14, a Norwegian Air Shuttle spokesman, Andreas Hjornholm, said.
While passengers were able to fly on to Oslo the following day on another aircraft, the Boeing 737 Max has been stuck on Iranian soil where the airline’s mechanics are trying to repair it, Hjornholm said.
According to specialized sites such as www.airlive.net, the repair work has encountered problems because international sanctions bar the airline from sending spare parts to Iran.
With the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump administration decided to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
Norwegian Air Shuttle refused to comment on those reports.
“I can only say that we are working with several options to get the plane back on the wings, and right now we are waiting for our technicians to be able to service the plane and to get it working,” Hjornholm said.
The incident has fueled jokes on social media.
“Iran has become a Bermuda Triangle that feeds on planes,” one Iranian Twitter user wrote.
It could also pose problems for the plane’s passengers and crew members if they want to travel to the US in future.
Since 2015, anyone who has traveled to seven countries considered at risk (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) since March 2011 is excluded from the US visa waiver program applied to most Europeans.
According to Hjornholm, the passengers and crew on the Dubai-Oslo flight officially entered Iran and stayed overnight at a hotel on December 14-15.
The US embassy in Oslo was not available for comment.
Last year, former NATO secretary general Javier Solana was refused entry to the US because he had visited Iran for the inauguration ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013.


Militant sentenced to 19 years for role in Benghazi attacks

Updated 24 January 2020

Militant sentenced to 19 years for role in Benghazi attacks

  • Al-Imam is the second militant convicted in the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel
  • The head of the extremist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison

NEW YORK: A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Libyan militant to more than 19 years in prison for his role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador.
A jury convicted Mustafa Al-Imam last year of conspiring to support the extremist militia that launched the fiery assaults on the US compounds but deadlocked on 15 other counts.
The attacks, aimed at killing American personnel, prompted a political fracas in which Republicans accused the Obama administration of a bungled response.
Al-Imam was sentenced to a total of 236 months behind bars. He is the second militant convicted in the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, communications specialist Sean Smith and security officers Tyrone Snowden Woods and Glen Anthony Doherty.
The head of the extremist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Khattala was accused of driving to the diplomatic mission on Sept. 11, 2012, and breaching the main gate with militants who attacked with assault rifles, grenades and other weapons.
The initial attack killed Stevens and Smith and set the mission ablaze. Woods and Doherty were later killed at a CIA annex.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Washington asked US District Judge Christopher Cooper to send a message to others contemplating attacks on Americans overseas, saying Al-Imam deserved the maximum 35-year sentence.
“In the current geopolitical environment, terrorists must understand that there are harsh consequences for attacking diplomatic posts and harming US personnel — particularly a US ambassador,” Assistant US Attorney John Cummings wrote in a court filing.
Defense attorneys said Al-Imam made a “tremendous mistake” by damaging and looting US property after the attacks. But they insisted there was no evidence he intended to harm any Americans, noting jurors could not reach a verdict on the murder charges Al-Imam faced.
“Mustafa Al-Imam is a frail, uneducated and simple man,” they wrote in a court filing. “He is not a fighter, an ideologue or a terrorist. He is a former convenience store clerk whose main loves in life are soccer and family.”
Al-Imam was tried in a civilian court despite the Trump administration’s earlier contention that such suspects are better sent to Guantanamo Bay. His arrest, five years after the attack, was the first publicly known operation since President Donald Trump took office targeting those accused of involvement in Benghazi.
Prosecutors acknowledged there was no evidence that Al-Imam “directly caused” the killings at the US compounds. But they said he aligned himself with Khattala and acted as his “eyes and ears” at the height of the attacks.
During a four-week trial in Washington, prosecutors pointed to phone records that showed Al-Imam was in the vicinity of the mission and placed an 18-minute call to Khattala during a “pivotal moment” of the attacks.
Al-Imam also entered the US compound, prosecutors said, and took sensitive material that identified the location of the CIA annex about a mile away from the mission as the evacuation point for Department of State personnel.
In interviews with law enforcement following his 2017 capture in Misrata, Libya, he admitted stealing a phone and map from the US mission.