An airline flight steward told a hushed court today of mid air threats to blow up an airliner at 30,000ft and of personal death threats to him.
Senior flight steward Ghulam Shabir Mahar was giving evidence at the trial of two men from Nelson accused of threatening to blow up a Boeing 777 with 308 passengers and 14 crew on board.
He was so scared by the threats made to him personally during the incident in which the Lahore to Manchester bound aircraft was diverted to Stansted Airport and given a fighter escort that he asked the court to order the airline to provide him with protection.
He said that one of the two accused, Tayyab Subhani (30) threatened him saying: “We will see to you, fix you anywhere - anywhere in Pakistan - or we’ll find you.”
And he said the other accused, Mohammed Safdar (42) – who he claimed made a threat to blow up the plane – was angry, made a sign of the cross and told him “you’re finished”.
“I understood he could harm me any time on the spot. That’s why I didn’t go near him any time after that. I spoke to him from a distance,” he told the jury.
He said that since the incident he and his family had been very worried about what happened and he was concerned that the accused could have “some connection to an organisation or Islamic terrorist organisation”.
The two men on trial are Subhani, of Brierfield, Townley Street, and Safdar, of Hallam Street, both Nelson, near Burnley. Both deny that on May 24th they endangered the safety of the plane by communicating intentionally that some passengers and some crew would be killed and the aircraft blown up.
Mr Mahar said Safdar “became very angry and kept on that he would blow up everyone and told them no-one should go near him”.
He continued: “Speaking in Urdu, he said ‘All of you sit down. Stay away from me. No one should come near me otherwise I’ll blow up everyone’.”
He said that passengers had told Safdar not to create problems for them or the crew.
But he said : “He tried to touch the passengers and there was an argument between him and other passengers because he was creating problems.
“He made gestures with his arms telling them to move away from him. He was waving them away from him and saying ‘don’t try to speak to me.’
“Passengers were trying to calm him down because there were children and families with them. We made the maximum effort to make him sit down so we could have the remaining journey peacefully.”
The hearing continues.