A Japan Airlines plane heading to the U.S. with 265 passengers and crew on board was recalled Wednesday due to a bomb threat which reportedly demanded the release of a notorious criminal, the airline said Thursday.
The carrier said it received an email at 1:30 p.m. that warned a bomb was planted inside the plane after the Boeing 777 left for New York at 11:50 Wednesday morning.
Jiji Press news agency reported Thursday that the email demanded the release of Shoko Asahara, the mastermind behind the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attacks, which killed 13 and injured thousands.
The plane was ordered back to Narita International Airport at 3:10 p.m. as it was flying over the Aleutian island chain in the north Pacific, a company official said. It arrived back at Narita at around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
"The plane had departed after security checks but we decided to call it back after consultations with the police," he added.
A thorough search of the plane turned up no explosive device, the official added without elaborating.
All 247 passengers and 18 crew and departed for New York on another plane, the official said.
Quoting investigators, Jiji Press said the email demanded the release of Asahara, 57, who was sentenced to death along with 12 other members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult after they released deadly nerve gas into the Japanese capital's subway system.
In recent months, Japanese authorities arrested the last two remaining suspects from the cult who had been on the run since the deadly attacks.© (C) 2012 AFP