Passengers on a flight from Istanbul to the northern part of Cyprus had the scare of their life on Wednesday seconds before takeoff when a female passenger threatened to blow up the plane.
According to media reports, a woman wearing sunglasses and a niqab, as well as holding and waving a copy of the Quran, stood up and threatened to blow up the aircraft as it was taxiing at Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul en route to Ercan in north Nicosia.
“I am a FETO member, and I will blow up the aircraft,” she shouted in Turkish.
Some passengers on the Pegasus flight reportedly panicked while others began arguing with her and trying to calm her down until the plane came to a stop. At that time, security officers boarded the aircraft and escorted the woman off the plane as she was lighting cigarettes and waiting to be arrested.
The flight was later cancelled and passengers were taken back to the terminal, according to Turkish media.
Ankara, which views FETO as a terrorist organization, says the group was behind a failed coup in 2016. Turkey also accuses FETO members of infiltrating the government on a secret, long-running campaign to disrupt and ultimately overthrow the state through gaining influence in public institutions, such as the military, police, and judiciary.
Thousands of civil servants have had their jobs terminated in Turkey based on government suspicions they were secretively supporting Fetullah Gulen, a self-exiled Turkish preacher in the US and founder of the FETO organization.
Critics called Ankara’s security measures a “massive witch hunt” accusing Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan of using the coup as a pretext to go after political enemies.