***Scroll to see updates***
Dutch F-16s intercepted the flight and escorted it back to Amsterdam:
A Mumbai bound Northwest Airlines plane had to be escorted by fighter planes back to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
Just as the flight made it over German skies, the pilot radioed in the Air Traffic Control at Schiphol asking for military escort. Two US Marshals on board were suspicious after the unruly behaviour of some passengers.
Some passengers were taken in for questioning, while others checked into local hotels.
Last year, a British Airways flight returned to Schiphol under similar circumstances. It later turned out to be a false alarm.
After the August 10 terror scare over British skies, few agencies are taking any chances. For harried passengers it is not the same anymore flying across the globe.
Fox News reports that 12 people were arrested. Here’s the story from Reuters on the arrests.
Update II: Mary Katharine is all over this story and notes that the arrests combined with the air marshals getting involved means this incident is a bit more serious than the previous false alarms.
Update III: According to Tim Nelson who was on the plane, 10 of the 12 men arrested appeared to be of “Pakistani or Middle Eastern descent“:
Dutch police spokesman Rob Staenacker told the AP that he couldn’t disclose the nationalities of those arrested Wednesday or the nature of the suspicions against them. Nelson said he watched Dutch police come aboard in threes and escort a dozen men, 10 of them appearing to be of Pakistani or Middle Eastern descent, from the plane one by one in a remote parking area at the airport.
“Some they handcuffed before they took them out,” he said. “One guy was a white guy, with a tie-dyed shirt, a beard and dreadlocks. He looked like a hippie. There was an older man who appeared to be of Indian descent.”
A few of the others had beards, and some were dressed in shalwar kameez – traditional long shirts and baggy pants, Nelson said.
The incident was the latest of several terror alerts and flight diversions in the two weeks since British police shut down an alleged Islamic plot to smuggle liquid explosives aboard aircraft and detonate them, possibly with cell phones.
Update: IV: Dutch authorities say that the 12 men pose no terrorism threat and will be released. They apparently were refusing to follow directions, passing cell phones and laptops around, and generally making a ruckus.