Three Haitian soldiers armed with rifles who forced their way onto an American Airlines jetliner in Haiti were arrested Saturday when the plane landed at Kennedy Airport, officials said.
No one was injured in the incident, said American Airlines spokesman Jim Brown. The three men had surrendered their weapons before the airplane left Port-au-Prince.Airport security and the FBI were waiting when the plane, with 224 passengers and a crew of nine, arrived about 8:15 p.m in New York. The three men were arrested without incident, Brown said.
"They intended no harm to anyone, there was no threat of violence," said James Fox, director of the FBI's New York office. "They just said they wanted to leave Haiti for New York City."
American Airlines Flight 658 took off at 4:40 p.m. after the three soldiers slipped under a wire fence that surrounds Port-au-Prince International Airport and ran aboard the plane, airport employees said.
Radio Haiti Inter said the plane's captain agreed to fly the three men to New York, the plane's destination. The station said the men made no political statements.
Eric Boucicault, director American Airlines in Haiti, said "three soldiers on duty entered at the end of the line of passengers with a determined air. We could not refuse their entrance. As a result of negotiation, they deposited all their arms, pistols and rifles, in the pilot's cabin.
"Now they are seated calmly in their seats, and normal service is being maintained," he said before the airplane landed in New York.
Flight 658 runs daily between New York and the capital city of Port-au-Prince, where it arrives about 2 p.m. and leaves after 4 p.m.
"The pilot did a super job," said passenger Cameron Smith of Boston. "He negotiated a deal with them. He put them up in first class and tended to them the rest of the way."
Other passengers were not immediately let off the plane as authorities questioned them. The approximately 200 people who were waiting for the flight's arrival said they were not told about the incident until the plane landed.
Haiti has been beset by turmoil in recent weeks.