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News Briefs

Would-Be Hijacker Planned To Crash Plane Into Building


An Israeli Arab wrestled to the floor outside the cockpit of an El Al flight Sunday night told investigators he hoped to crash the jet into a tall building in Tel Aviv in imitation of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack against New York’s World Trade Center, Turkish police said Monday.

Tawfiq Fukra, 23, told anti-terrorism agents in Istanbul, where the plane landed safely, that he planned to use a penknife to hijack the Boeing 757 and single-handedly force it to crash into a building to protest Israel’s actions against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, according to a statement released by the Istanbul police’s anti-terrorism unit.

Fukra said he had intended to commandeer the jetliner shortly after takeoff “in order to hit tall buildings in Tel Aviv” but lost his nerve, the police statement said. “He had been collecting information from Internet sites about how to fly a plane,” it added.

Hamas Claims Responsibility For Ambush, Says More Planned


The radical group Hamas has vowed to continue attacks like the one that killed 12 Israelis in the West Bank last week despite calls that Palestinian groups show restraint in the run-up to Israeli elections to give more moderate politicians a chance to win.

Mousa abu Marzouk, in an interview in the group’s office here over the weekend, claimed that Hamas planned the attack that took the lives of nine Israeli solders and border patrolmen and three armed guards from the Kiryat Arba Jewish settlement on the outskirts of the city of Hebron. It was one of the worst recent losses for Israeli forces. Sixteen other Israelis were wounded in the three-hour gun battle, and three Palestinian attackers were killed.

Rather than discouraging Jewish settlers in the overwhelmingly Arab city, the attack prompted a decision to dig in and establish a settlement to link Kiryat Arba and Hebron’s small Jewish settlement near the Cave of the Patriarchs, a site holy to Muslims and Jews as the traditional burying place of Abraham. On Monday, settlers claimed a key road between the two locations.

Black Hole’s Velocity Links It to Supernova


Astronomers have spotted a black hole speeding through the Milky Way as it gobbles up the outer layers of a doomed companion star locked in a fatal gravitational embrace.

The discovery provides direct observational evidence that black holes with masses comparable to single stars can, as long theorized, form in supernova explosions, the catastrophic end result for the most massive stars in the universe.

“This is the first black hole found to be moving fast through the plane of our galaxy,” Felix Mirabel, of the French Atomic Energy Commission and the Institute for Astronomy and Space Physics of Argentina, said in a statement. “This discovery is exciting because it shows the link of a black hole to a supernova.”

The black hole, known as GRO J1655-40, is heading in the general direction of Earth, racing through space at about 250,000 mph in the constellation Scorpius. Lest anyone worry about some future collision, the black hole is 6,000 to 9,000 light years away, putting it more than 16 million years from Earth’s vicinity in the Milky Way.