TWA Flight 355
|Date||September 10, 1976|
|Site||United States and Canada|
|Passengers||41 (5 hijackers)|
|Fatalities||0 (1 fatality in a separate attack - see below)|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 727|
|Operator||Trans World Airlines|
|Flight origin||LaGuardia Airport, New York|
|1st stopover||Mirabel International Airport, Canada|
|2nd stopover||Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador|
|Last stopover||Paris, France|
|Destination||O'Hare International Airport, Chicago|
The incident occurred on the same day as the Zagreb mid-air collision, which to date remains Croatia's worst air disaster.
The Boeing 727 plane took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport and was headed to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. The hijackers were Slobodan Vlašić, Zvonko Bušić, his wife Julienne Bušić, Petar Matanić, and Frane Pešut. The hijackers claimed to have a bomb as they seized control of the plane in the 95th minute of its flight; the alleged bomb on board was actually a pressure cooker.
The group redirected the plane to Montreal's Mirabel International Airport where they refueled and told officials that they had planted a bomb in a locker at Grand Central Station and gave them instructions on finding it. They demanded that an appeal to the American people concerning Croatia's independence be printed in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the International Herald Tribune. The plane was then flown to Gander, Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador), where 35 of its passengers were released. From there the plane was accompanied by a larger TWA plane which guided it to Reykjavík, Iceland. The hijackers' initial European destination was London, but the British government refused them permission to land.
During the hijacking the device at Grand Central Station was found and taken to Rodman's Neck Firing Range where police attempted to dismantle it rather than detonate it. After setting a cutting instrument on the two wires attached to the device, the officers retreated from the pit for several minutes. They then returned to the pit to continue dismantling the device when it exploded and killed an officer, Brian Murray.
The plane landed in Paris where the hijackers surrendered after direct talks with U.S. ambassador Kenneth Rush, and their supposedly explosive devices were revealed to be fakes. As the police took Julienne Bušić away, the plane's pilot gave her a hug in gratitude for her calming of the passengers during the hijacking.
By the 1990s and early 2000s, the last remaining hijacker in prison was Zvonko Bušić. On several occasions after Croatian independence, Croatian president Franjo Tudjman appealed to American president Bill Clinton for Bušić's release or transfer to Croatia. In 2003, the Croatian Parliament passed a resolution that Bušić should be transferred to Croatia, which it submitted to the Council of Europe. The liberal Croatian Helsinki Committee also took up the cause of Bušić's release.
On June 7, 2008 Bušić was granted parole after 32 years of imprisonment. Bušić was paroled and deported to Croatia where he was greeted by approximately 500 people at Zagreb's Pleso airport. Among those in the crowd were Dražen Budiša, Anto Kovačević, and Marko Perković, as well as all four of the other hijackers.
Zvonko Bušic committed suicide on 1 September 2013 by gunshot at his home in Rovanjska near Zadar; he was discovered by his wife. He was 67 years old.
- United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. - 592 F.2d 13
- Green Light Interview with Julienne Bušić
- TW 355 Hijacked! By Angelo Patrizio and Mike Mudge
- Bombs for Croatia (Part I), Time Magazine
- Bombs for Croatia (Part II), Time Magazine
- The Hijackee Syndrome, Time Magazine
- Plain Dealer: After 20 years of legal battles Frane Pešut is deported to Croatia
- After 32 years Bušić freed by his wife and the HHO, Slobodna Dalmacija. June 8, 2008.
- Robert Bajruši (30 July 2007). "HHO u operaciji oslobađanja Zvonka Bušića" [HHO set to free Zvonko Bušić] (in Croatian). Nacional (weekly). Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- Zvonko's dream became a reality, Slobodna Dalmacija. June 24, 2008.
- Zvonko Bušić 18 years longer in jail than others
- Paroling of Bušić after 32 years in prison in America, Večernji list. June 7, 2008.
- Finally I'm in a free homeland, Jutarnji list. June 24, 2008.
- Bušić: I am not a thief that I'd secretly return to Croatia, Večernji list. June 24, 2008.
- Your Blood and Mine Official Website
- Green Light Interview with Julienne Bušić, October 2004
- Zvonko and Julienne Busic's official website