Sunday, December 15, 2013

Global Impact: Air France Flight 385 Grounded in Caracas After Bomb Threat

According to The Latin American Tribune, Air France flight 385 from Caracas to Paris was halted Saturday evening (December 14) after French intelligence services informed their counterparts in Caracas that there were threats of an explosive on board, according to Venezuela Minister for the Interior, Justice, and Peace, Miguel Rodríguez Torres.

Rodríguez stated that the information was provided to SEBIN, the Venezuelan intelligence service by the French anti-terrorist unit.

"It was assumed that explosive had been placed on a plane to detonate in flight between Caracas-Paris or Paris-Caracas," Rodríguez told state television channel Venezolana de Television (VTV) via telephone.

As a result, Venezuela began searching the plane and halted the departure of the flight which had been due to depart at 1925 hours on Saturday.

"So far the information we have is the intent of a terrorist group to place an explosive on a France-Venezuela flight," he said.

COMMENT: Rodríguez apologized to the passengers of Flight 385, but stressed that the Venezuelan government is obligated to conduct a "comprehensive review" of the aircraft in cases of terrorist threats.

SEBIN is serving as the lead agency, considering the threat occurred in Venezuela. 

In September, French authorities found 1.3 tons of cocaine on board an Air France flight from Caracas. The cocaine had an estimated street value of 50 million euros ($67.6 million), the French Interior Ministry said.

Considering that a large number of Venezuelan officials were implicated in the September seizure of drugs in France, it is entirely plausible that Venezuelans loyal to those arrested may have been behind the apparent Air France bomb hoax.