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The “bomb threat” justifying the abduction of Belarus came 24 minutes later
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty The Daily Beast, in partnership with the Dossier Center, has exclusively received the original bomb threat email that Alexander Lukashenko now claims to have been sent by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, a dissident journalist in Minsk. But timestamps show that the email was sent 24 minutes after the Belarusian authorities told the pilot and crew that they were carrying an explosive device as well as passengers. “Allahu Akbar” is the subject line of the email, from the sender of That was [email protected] “We, Hamas soldiers,” the email goes on to say, “are calling on Israel to stop the fire in the Gaza Strip.” We demand that the European Union give up its support for Israel in this war. We know that the participants of [sic] The Delphi Economic Forum is returning home on May 23 on flight FR4978. A bomb was planted on this plane. If you do not comply with our demands, the bomb will explode over Vilnius on May 23rd. “Journalist kidnapped from Flight Faces Belarus’ death penalty The ceasefire mentioned in the email came into effect on Friday, two days before this communique was sent. The bomb threat, Lukashenko said, forced the Ryanair plane carrying one of Belarus’ most prominent opposition journalists to divert to Minsk on Sunday. Insistence on a MiG-29 fighter plane “escorting” the plane into an impromptu landing was added. Conveniently, the Belarusian authorities also had the opportunity to kidnap a reporter who was accused of sparking anti-government protests last year. Roman Protasevich, the former editor-in-chief of the Nexta telegram channel, is now in the care of the KGB as Belarus. The post-Soviet security service is still called in, as is his Russian friend Sofia Sepega. Both “confessed” to a series of anti-government crimes in apparently forced performances reminiscent of Stalinist show trials. Nobody is seriously buying the bomb threat claim, let alone its attribution to Hamas, whose spokesman Fawzi Barhoum categorically opposed the group’s involvement in a 21st-century plane hijacking – one that was more likely to be orchestrated by a government that was opposed to its own Wanted to suppress the civilian population. After initially downplaying the episode on social media, both the European Union and Ryanair have now dubbed this brazen intelligence operation a “hijacking” and “government sponsored piracy” operation. President Joe Biden called the incident an “outrageous” and “shameful” attack on the free press. All EU-based air carriers have since ceased flying through Belarusian airspace and have banned the Belarusian state air fleet from entering EU countries. Putin invites the Belarusian hijacker to TeaOn Monday. The bloc agreed to continue sanctions against Lukashenko’s regime, as reported, on the grounds of arrests and suspected disappearance of other independent Belarusian journalists, particularly those who, like Protasevich, reported on the stolen presidential election last August and the resulting protest movement. Lukashenko has spent almost a year consolidating his 27-year reign, viewing his opponents as “terrorists” and forcing them into exile or prison. Protasevich, imprisoned for terrorism and espionage, could face the death penalty in Belarus. The original email Lukashenko posted his insane conspiracy theory on is riddled with other inconsistencies that conflict with the established timeline of the events that led to the plane’s emergency landing. The email was sent to the Minsk National Airport general information account at 12:57 on May 23, 27 minutes after the aircraft first entered Belarusian airspace and 24 minutes after air traffic control in Minsk Ryanair first informed pilots that an emailed bomb threat was “shared” with multiple airports. Dossier Center The Greek Civil Aviation Authority in charge of the aircraft that took off from Athens has publicly stated that it did not receive such a warning at any time during FR4978’s voyage. Lithuania received the email but not Vilnius Airport, the intended destination. Rather, the recipients were the Lithuanian airports of State Enterprise, the state-owned company that handles three different Lithuanian airports (Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga). While Lukashenko’s KGB performed a formidable coup by taking a political prisoner prisoner by air piracy, his apology leaves much to be desired. Aside from the fact that Hamas is not intended to blow up commercial airliners, the identity it chose for a Hamas representative was bizarre. Ahmed Yurlanov? The origin of the name Yurlanov happens to be Russian, Bulgarian, Azerbaijani and Jewish. This research was carried out in collaboration with the Dossier Center and Newslines. Read more at The Daily Beast Inbox Every Day. Sign up now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.