Iran’s IRGC Says It Thwarted Rare Airline Hijacking Attempt Midflight 

A bizarre story circulating widely in Iranian state media sources says the country’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) thwarted a rare attempt to hijack a passenger plane soon after it took off from an airport in the southwest city of Ahvaz. 

An IRGC statement said a terrorist targeted an Iran Air Fokker 100 regional commercial jet that was bound for the northwestern city of Mashhad, and tried to force it to fly south across the Persian Gulf. The incident reportedly happened Thursday and resulted in the plane making an emergency landing at Isfahan Airport in the central part of the country.

There were no casualties or injuries reported, and few details given, but only that IRGC operatives neutralized and arrested the would-be hijacker during the flight, which the government statement described has having sought to divert to the “southern shores of the Persian Gulf.”

As The Times of Israel observed in reporting it, that description “would include the countries of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, three nations long suspicious of Iran’s intentions in the wider region.”

Such hijacking attempts are very rare in the Islamic Republic, particularly also because Iran typically stations undercover armed marshals aboard domestic flights. The last hijacking incident happened in 2000.

The IRGC statement issued Friday praised the swift response of IRGC air marshals

“The noble and heroic nation of the Islamic Iran is informed that with the grace of God, the conspiracy to hijack a Fokker 100 aircraft belonging to Iran Air… which had taken off from Ahvaz airport to the holy city of Mashhad at 22:10 hours Thursday night was neutralized with the vigilance of the IRGC’s flight security team.”

The military says it continues to investigate “dimensions and angles of the conspiracy”. 

In the past when there are unexpected terrorist disruptions in the country, Tehran has quickly laid blame on foreign plots and attackers, including routinely pointing the finger at Israel and Saudi-sponsored operatives. 

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