Hostages released from the hijacked Kuwait Airways jet said Friday that Iran provided the sky pirates with weapons and explosives while the plane was in northeast Iran.
"It's 100 percent obvious that Iran was behind the crime. Let there be no doubt about that," said Khaled Nasser Zaferi, 27, a Kuwaiti security man, who was held captive during the 16-day ordeal.He said a group of men boarded the plane after it landed at Mashhad Airport in Iran on April 5 with 112 people on board.
"More terrorists boarded the plane at Mashhad where they produced a submachine gun and explosives they didn't have before," he told The Associated Press in an interview at his home.
They were disguised as cleaning workers, Zaferi said, "but their performance was so bad and unprofessional that most of us whispered to each other, `These must be Iranian security men.' "
Zaferi, 21 other passengers and seven crew members arrived home from Algiers Thursday, one day after they were freed by the hijackers at Houari Boumedienne Airport.
The hostages included three cousins of the emir of Kuwait.
Kuwait Airways Flight 422 was commandeered on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand, to Kuwait. It stopped first in Mashhad where 57 hostages were freed. It then went to Larnaca, Cyprus, where 13 more were released and two hostages were killed.
The plane flew next to Algiers, Algeria, where one hostage was released due to medical problems.
On Wednesday, the 31 remaining captives were freed, and 29 flew to Kuwait.
The hostages had demanded the release of 17 convicted terrorists jailed for bombing the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983, but Kuwait had refused to do so.
Another captive, Khaled Shamari, 32, also a businessman, said gumnen boarded the plane in Iran.
"They brought arms and explosives aboard the aircraft," he said. "They also brought the plastic straps with which they tied our hands."
All the hostages said they did not know that two men had been killed in Cyprus. They said the two were taken to the front of the aircraft and then disappeared.
The exact deal that ended the ordeal in Algeria is not known. But Arab diplomats have said the hostges slipped away after surrendering the Boeing 747 and the remaining captives Wednesday.
Western diplomats have said the hijackers went to Beirut. But officials at Beirut airport denied they landed there.
Friday's editions of The New York Times quoted unidentified Arab officials as saying the hijackers were flown on a private Algerian jet to Damascus, Syria, and were believed to have traveled overland to Lebanon.
Thg officials also were quoted as saying that, with the exception of one Iranian, most of the hijackers were thought to be Lebanese citizens.
Zaferi said he knew that the men who boarded the plane where not cleaning workers, "because I'm an airport security man myself.