Imam Ali International Airport reopens after 9/11-like threat
By: Ismail Zabeeh
HOLY NAJAF, Iraq: Najaf’s Imam Ali International Airport used by
thousands of pilgrims reopened on Thursday April 22 after Al-Qaeda
threats led to its closure two weeks ago, a local official told AFP.
"The head of Iraq's civil aviation and the ministry of transport
decided from today to reopen the airport to internal and international
flights, after all security measures were taken to prevent Al-Qaeda
attacking the Shiite shrines with aircraft," provincial councillor
Khaled al-Jashami said.
The airport closed on April 7 "because of gaps in security," a
transport ministry spokesman said at the time, with the Kuwaiti
company Al Aqiq reportedly failing to meet its contractual obligations
to provide security equipment.
On April 14, a US counter-terrorist official announced that the Iraqi
authorities have discovered an Al-Qaeda plan to hijack aircraft and
fly them into the holy shrines.
Holy Najaf airport, 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of the Iraqi
capital, has been receiving around 800 passengers daily, mostly
pilgrims from Bahrain and Iran, since it opened to civilian flights in
But numbers surge during major events such as Ashura.
According to provincial authorities the airport's closure caused daily
losses of 100,000 dollars.
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