LONDON (AFP) – More than three decades have passed since they were held as human shields by Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but those caught up in the ordeal still want answers.
Passengers who were taken off British Airways Flight 149 in Kuwait on August 2, 1990 want the UK government to admit liability, apologize and release a secret report about what really happened.
A new book, “Operation Trojan Horse”, claims the authorities in London used the flight to deploy nine military intelligence officials in Kuwait and knew the civilians risked capture.
Author Stephen Davis said the plane landed despite Britain receiving U.S. intelligence announcing the Iraqi invasion three hours and 45 minutes beforehand and the control tower in Kuwait turning away all other flights that night.
Shortly afterwards, Iraqi jets pounded the runway with bombs before tanks and troops surrounded the airport as Kuwaiti defenses capitulated.
Some of the 367 passengers and crew who were taken off the Kuala Lumpur-bound jet spent more than four months in captivity.
They were placed at sites throughout Iraq thought likely to be targeted by a Western military coalition.
One of them, Barry Manners, 55, was travelling with his friend to Malaysia at the time.
He said in London this week that the “conspiracy of silence” about what happened had destroyed his faith in authority.
“It’s the antithesis of every value you were taught, the whole essence of Western society,” he told AFP.
Another, Margaret Hearn, 65, said: “I trusted British Airways. It makes you very angry. Luckily, I came out of it, but no thanks to them.”
Reliving his time as a hostage, Manners, a landlord, said he befriended his captor, an engineer at Dukan Dam in northern Iraq, but constantly worried about food shortages and that the guards would be ordered to shoot prisoners.