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Suspected Cultist Disrupts Flight

Wed., June 21, 1995, midnight

A Japanese domestic airliner was hijacked Wednesday by at least one man demanding the release of Shoko Asahara, the imprisoned leader of the Aum Supreme Truth cult accused of masterminding a deadly poison gas attack in the Tokyo subway system.

The plane, an All Nippon Airways Boeing 747 with 350 passengers and 15 crew, landed safely on a scheduled flight from Tokyo to the northern city of Hakodate and was parked on a runway.

One hijacker, who said his name is Saburo Kobayashi, claimed to be a Supreme Truth member. But the cult denied any involvement.

The hijacker demanded that the plane be refueled and flown back to Tokyo, authorities said.

The man initiated the hijacking by threatening to stab a flight attendant with an ice pick, authorities said. The hijacker then gained access to the cockpit, where a flight engineer was reported to have been tied up.



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