Daallo Airlines Flight 159
|Date||2 February 2016|
|Summary||Bomb detonated in a suicide bombing.|
|Site||En-route over Somalia|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A321-111|
|Flight origin||Aden Adde International Airport, Somalia|
|Destination||Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport|
|Fatalities||1 (Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, the suspect)|
Daallo Airlines Flight 159 (DAO 159/D3 159) was a scheduled international passenger flight operated by Somali-owned Daallo Airlines. On 2 February 2016, an explosion occurred on board the aircraft 20 minutes after it took off from Mogadishu. The aircraft was able to return to the airport safely, with one fatality (the bomber) reported. A subsequent investigation indicated that the explosion was caused by a bomb, detonated in a suicide attack. The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab later claimed responsibility for the bombing. A total of ten people were convicted in relation to the plot.
The aircraft involved was a 19-year-old Airbus A321-111, SX-BHS, owned by Hermes Airlines, and operated by Daallo Airlines at the time of the incident. The aircraft was delivered to Daallo Airlines on 5 January 2015. The aircraft had previously been operated by Hermes Airlines, Air Méditerranée, Myanmar Airways International and Swissair. The aircraft's manufacturer serial number (MSN) is 642 and it first flew on 6 January 1997. The aircraft was delivered to Swissair on 21 January 1997. It is equipped with two CFM International CFM56 engines and has a 220-seat economy-only configuration. In March 2013, it experienced a runway excursion after landing at Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport.
|Video from onboard the aircraft showing passengers being moved to the back of the plane|
|CCTV camera footage showing the laptop suspected to have caused the blast|
On 2 February 2016, 20 minutes after taking off from Mogadishu, Somalia, at 11:00 local time, en route to Djibouti City, at an altitude of about 14,000 ft (4,300 m), an explosion occurred aboard the aircraft, opening a hole in the fuselage behind the R2 door. It was reported that day that the explosion was most likely close to seats 15/16F, abeam the forward wing root and the fuel tanks. There were 74 passengers and 7 crew on board at the time of the incident.
Reacting to the explosion, flight attendants moved passengers to the rear of the aircraft. The pilots alerted Mogadishu tower, reporting a pressurisation problem, but did not declare an emergency. The aircraft returned to Aden Adde International Airport and performed an emergency landing. Two injuries were reported, and the burnt body of the suicide bomber fell from the aircraft, landing in the town of Dhiiqaaley near Balad, Somalia; it was found by nearby residents.
The flight had been delayed before departure, so at the time of the explosion the aircraft was not yet at cruising altitude and the cabin was not yet fully pressurized. It was thought that a laptop had been rigged with a timer device to explode the bomb mid-flight.
According to Mohamed Ibrahim Yassin Olad, the CEO of Daallo Airlines, the suicide bomber and 69 of the 73 other passengers on board were meant to board a Turkish Airlines flight, which was cancelled on the morning of 2 February due to poor weather conditions. This resulted in Daallo Airlines rerouting the passengers to Djibouti, where they would be transferred to a Turkish Airlines flight. The cancellation of the Turkish Airlines flight was confirmed by Yahya Ustun, a spokesman for the company.
Somalia's Air Accident Investigation Authority (SAAIA) stated on 3 February that one person was missing from the aircraft once it had returned to Mogadishu and later confirmed that the missing person's body was found near Balad. An investigation into the bombing was carried out by the National Intelligence and Security Agency, with the cooperation of airport authorities and local police. Daallo Airlines, in a statement, said that a technical team of Hermes Airlines, the owner of the aircraft, as well as the aircraft's manufacturer, Airbus, played a role in the active investigation. The FBI also contributed its efforts to the investigation.
Initial tests of the damage on Flight 159 confirmed traces of explosive residue. It is thought that a bomb, possibly hidden within a laptop, was carried onto the aircraft by a person in a wheelchair. The passenger was believed to have been transferred into a regular seat after being brought onto the plane. Two passengers on the plane, including one who was sitting in the next seat, were arrested on suspicion of being accomplices. On 6 February, Transport Minister Ali Ahmed Jama confirmed that the explosion was caused by a bomb that "was meant to kill all onboard".
Somali authorities identified the deceased passenger as Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, a 55-year-old male from Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland region of Somalia, but did not confirm that he was suspected of being the suicide bomber. Borleh was a teacher at an Islamic school, and said he was going abroad for health reasons, according to Sheikh Mohamed Abdullahi, a mosque imam in Hargeisa. A Somali federal official stated that Borleh had been monitored by security agents, "but we had never considered him to be dangerous". A senior Somalia immigration official said that Borleh had obtained a Turkish visa to work in Turkey as an adviser for the foreign ministry. A letter was allegedly sent from the Somali Embassy in Ankara to the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu, asking the Turkish Embassy to facilitate a visa for Borleh to be "an adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotions". The Somali Embassy in Ankara denied sending any such letter.
A security camera recording from the airport shows two men, seemingly airport workers, giving a laptop to Borleh. US officials have said that investigators believe the bomber had some type of connection to airline or airport personnel.
At least 20 people, including government officials and the two airline employees, were arrested on suspicion of being linked to the attack. A Serbian pilot, Vlatko Vodopivec, criticised the lack of security around the aircraft at the airport, describing the facility as "chaotic". In an interview with the Associated Press, Vodopivec explained that "the security is zero. When we park there, some 20 to 30 people come to the tarmac ... No one has a badge or those yellow vests. They enter and leave the aircraft, and no one knows who is who... They can put anything inside when passengers leave the aircraft."
Mohamed Ibrahim Yassin Olad, the CEO of Daallo Airlines, stated that the airline would keep flying to Somalia, despite the incident. "We have been there for 25 years," he said. "Our efforts to keep Somalia linked to the rest of the world will continue."
On 13 February, eleven days after the incident, the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, in an email statement, claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was "retribution for the crimes committed by the coalition of Western crusaders and their intelligence agencies against the Muslims of Somalia." Al-Shabaab also said that it targeted Turkish Airlines because Turkey is a NATO state supporting Western operations in Somalia and that they were targeting Western intelligence officials and Turkish NATO soldiers who were on board.
On 30 May 2016, a Somali military court found two men guilty of planning the plot and of being members of al-Shabab and sentenced them to life in prison. One of the two men was a former security official at the airport and the other, who financed the attack, had eluded arrest and was tried in absentia. Eight other airport workers were convicted of aiding the plot, but were not convicted of being members of al-Shabab, and were given prison sentences ranging from six months to four years. They worked a range of jobs at the airport, including security screeners, a police officer, a porter and immigration officers.
- Accidents and incidents involving the Airbus A320 family
- Metrojet Flight 9268 – A fatal aircraft bombing incident involving another A321
- Northwest Airlines Flight 253 – A failed bombing attempt involving an A330
- Botelho, Greg; Kriel, Robyn (2 February 2016). "Somalia jet explosion: 2 injured, hole left in plane". CNN. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- "Somalia plane bomber was meant to board Turkish flight: airline executive". Reuters. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- "'Somalia plane bomber given bomb in laptop' on CCTV". BBC News. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- Omar, Feisal (13 February 2016). "Somalia's al Shabaab says its bomber behind airline blast". Reuters UK. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
- "Al-Shabab 'carried out' Somalia plane attack". BBC News. 13 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
- "Somalia: Al Shabaab claims responsibility for Daallo airlines bomb explosion". Horseed Media. 13 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
- "Daallo Airlines blast: Somalia sentences two to life in prison". BBC News. 30 May 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- "(Airbus A321 – MSN 642) (Ex F-GYAO HB-IOG)". Air Fleets. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- Ranter, Harro (29 March 2013). "ASN Aircraft accident Airbus A321-111 SX-BHS Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport (LYS)". Aviation Safety. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Freeman, Colin (4 February 2016). "'Wheelchair-bound suicide bomber' responsible for attack on Somali airline". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
- "Burning man sucked out of plane at 14,000ft after explosion on board". ABP Live. Associated Press. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Rivers, Martin (2 February 2016). "Cause Of Daallo Airlines A321 Explosion Unclear: CEO". Forbes. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- "Two Reported Injured After Explosion on Airliner in Somalia". VICE News. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- "Daallo Airlines A321 damaged by explosion at Mogadishu". JACDEC. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Kriel, Robyn; Karimi, Faith (7 February 2016). "Airport workers seen with laptop used in Somalia in-flight jet blast". CNN. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Hradecky, Simon (2 February 2016). "Accident: Daallo A321 near Mogadishu on Feb 2nd 2016, explosion rips fuselage open". AV Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- Xaalada diyaaradii daallo ee hawada qaraxu kula dhacay. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- "Inquiry outlines initial moments after explosion hit Daallo A321". Flight Global. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
- "AirLive.net: BREAKING Explosion on board an A321 few mins after taking off from Mogadishu". Air Live. 2 February 2016. Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- "Somali plane 'was holed by bomb' after Mogadishu take-off". BBC News. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- Hruska, Joel (3 February 2016). "One killed in potential aircraft bombing, Somali jet makes emergency landing". ExtremeTech. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Rebello, Lara (3 February 2016). "Man sucked out of a hole created by blast on board Somalian aeroplane". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Mohamed, Hamza (7 February 2016). "Somali jet suspect 'checked in on Turkish Airlines'". Al jazeera.com. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Press Release for Flight D3 159". DAALLO Airlines. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Maruf, Harun (7 February 2016). "Somali Officials: Man Killed in Plane Bombing Given Laptop Before Flight". VOA. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Somali airliner bombing suspect smuggled laptop onto plane: official". Debkafile. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Minn, Duncan (6 February 2016). "Somali plane hit by bomb, meant to kill all on board: minister". Reuters. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- "Turkish airlines had a prior knowledge of the terror attack of Daallo airlines". Mareeg. 9 February 2016. Archived from the original on 10 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
- "Somali authorities identify the man that caused the blast on Daallo airlines". Somali Current. 6 February 2016. Archived from the original on 11 February 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- Nsubuga, Jimmy (5 February 2016). "Man 'sucked out of hole in plane was suicide bomber in wheelchair'". Metro. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- Winsor, Morgan (4 February 2016). "Somalia Daallo Airlines Explosion: Wheelchair Passenger Suspected As Suicide Bomber". International Business Times. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- "Somali plane bomber was known as religious but not extremist". The Big Story. Archived from the original on 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
- Kriel, Robyn; Karimi, Faith (7 February 2016). "Airport workers handled jet blast laptop". WVTM. CNN. Archived from the original on 8 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Somalia plane bomber was meant to board Turkish flight: Daallo CEO". The Globe and Mail. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
- Guled, Abdi; Stojanovic, Dusan (7 February 2016). "Somalia Spokesman: Video Shows Laptop Handed To Bomb Suspect". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Somalia: Airport Staff, Airline Employees Detained Over Somali Plane Blast". GeeskaAfrika. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Somalia sentences two to life in prison for February airline blast". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-06-11.