The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) have at times taken a beating in the media, in the House and in the Senate for having not prevented a hijacking in progress … however despite the political posturing between the United States and Iran … the Federal Air Marshal Service may be able to cite an incident last week in the skies over Syria where Iranian Revolutionary Guard Air Marshals prevented a hijacking in-flight.
On the 26th of November, Iran Air flight 517 flying from Tehran (IKA) to Damascus (DAM), was approaching Damascus International Airport, the capital city of Syria, when a man descried as a “mentally unstable” “counter revolutionary” announced that he had a bomb and stated he wanted the aircraft to land in a different country.
Shahrokh Nooshabadi, a spokesman for Iran Air, stated “The Air Marshals immediately arrested the offender” and “they talked to him, calmed him down and the plane landed safely in Damascus.”
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard released a statement saying “The firm and timely intervention of security agents on the plane, members of the Revolutionary Guards, thwarted the attempt by an element linked to the counter-revolution” and “This individual, whose identity is known and who is part of elements linked to counter-revolution, tried to hijack the plane by causing fear on the flight by pretending a bomb was on board.”
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard maintains an air marshal service for ‘high risk’ flights, working as under cover agents, in a similar manner to the U.S. Federal Air Marshal Service. Flights between Iran and Syrian frequently have Air Marshals on board for the particular reason that the flights fly over Iraqi air space. While Iraq’s new government is working to build relations with Syria, the relations between Iran and Iraq remain strained, placing these flights in a high-risk category for Iranian and Syrian airlines.
While the U.S. and Iran are at odds, aviation security should know no borders … so lets chalk one up Air Marshals from preventing a hijacking as it occurred.