A Small Airplane, Carrying over 50% Jews, Crashes as an Act of Terrorism in Panama, 1994
On This Day in Jewish History: July 19, 1994
Alas Chiricanas Airlines Flight 00901 was a commercial Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante aircraft that had boarded 19 passengers. 12 of these passengers were Jewish businessmen. In addition to the 19 passengers, there were 3 on duty crew members aboard. The flight took off from Enrique Jimenez Airport in Colon, Panama en route to the nation's capital, Ciudad de Panamá, around 4:30pm local time. Shortly after being airborne, the plane exploded and crashed. Everybody on board died. Pieces of the aircraft crashed into parts of Panama's Santa Rita Mountains. Investigators determined the source of the explosion was a bomb, and was more than likely perpetrated by a suicide bomber. Of the 21 people aboard flight 00901, 20 had been claimed by family or friends after investigations opened.
The only passenger to never be claimed by relatives but was identified by authorities as Ali Hawa Jamal, was said to be the suicide bomber. Multiple reports traced this man to using stolen American credit cards for car rentals in Panama, with rented vehicles being left abandoned close by to airports in the country. Reports also concluded that Hawa Jamal used the same stolen credit card for acquiring a Motorola mobile device from a Panamanian business that created a two-way communication system. This same device was boarded with him on the flight. Hawa Jamal and other possible middle eastern suspects for potential terrorism in Panama at the time were thought to have travel history in 1994 between Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Lebanon.
This event was considered a hate crime against Jews by the Panamanian, Israeli and US governments due to the number of Jews on board and a coincidental bombing the day before in Buenos Aires, Argentina at a Jewish center. The Buenos Aires bombing was attributed to Hezbollah. This made most investigators believe that the terrorist group was responsible for this aircraft explosion as well. Panamanian and US investigative and government authorities still consider this event an unsolved terrorist act. Panama had agreed in 2018 with Israel to continue the investigation, which had been somewhat forgotten. Investigations still continue, as some reporters have suggested that Iran has pressured Panama to not delve too deeply into the attack.
Photos: Embraer aircraft similar to the one that crashed (for an earlier slide): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alas_Chiricanas_Flight_901#/media/File:Embraer_EMB_110_Rafael_Luiz_(29234922955).jpg Ali Hawa Jamal wanted poster (for slide on Hawa Jamal): https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=E7gtwXzz&id=3352488E720E2AE551A31980EBDE1266EC50A4E6&thid=OIP.E7gtwXzzbDVH5QLf6FRh6QHaFu&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2fmiro.medium.com%2fmax%2f1628%2f0*7jDAZ-BSXbV7k6MB.png&cdnurl=https%3a%2f%2fth.bing.com%2fth%2fid%2fR.13b82dc17cf36c3547e502dfe85461e9%3frik%3d5qRQ7GYS3uuAGQ%26pid%3dImgRaw&exph=630&expw=814&q=alas+chiricanas+flight+901&simid=608028573073089336&FORM=IRPRST&ck=496C76DC0B4355A32C83947A9BBD2270&selectedIndex=9&ajaxhist=0&ajaxserp=0 Cover slide - Local Newspaper Cover: https://www.meforum.org/pics/6285.jpg (For wherever fits) News clip of crash saying that Israel says Hezbollah responsible for attack: https://i0.wp.com/www.radiosefarad.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/alas-chiricanas.png?fit=640%2C358&ssl=1 Sources: FBI: https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/seeking-info/ali-hawa-jamal/bombing-of-alas-chircanas-airlines-flight-00901 BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44207991 Yonkers Tribune: https://www.yonkerstribune.com/2019/09/why-panama-wont-investigate-the-iran-hezbollah-bombing-of-alas-chiricanas-flight-901-but-must-for-u-s-homeland-security-by-todd-bensman Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alas_Chiricanas_Flight_901