The technology student from Trinidad was arrested and charged with “criminal attempt to steal an aircraft” after he “accessed an American Airlines plane” and needed to be physically tackled by workers at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport yesterday. This is a major visa violation, of course, since he entered the U.S. from Canada, questions are being asked if he should even be in America.
Booker did convey that “Sankat entered the US from Canada and has a Florida driving license.” However, what is causing much of the alarm is the fact that the suspect’s Facebook page seems to show not only a person with a passion for aviation, but also, weaponry.
On Thursday, when he hopped a security fence and entered an unoccupied Airbus 321 (leaving his car by the curb, which police may have suspected to be a bomb), authorities had to act. Thankfully, an avionics technician saw his shadow and noticed Sankat. Brooks said, “He turned around and said, ‘Who are you? Show me your badge,”
From there, Sankat was grabbed and, with the help of another technician, he was removed from the airplane. One man held the Trinidadian down while the other phoned the “Orlando Melbourne airport police.”
On top of other charges (which may grow as the investigation continues), the man “now also faces a visa violation and criminal trespassing charges.”
In total, four people helped bring the student down and they were called “heroic” by Brooks.
Some people would opine that a student with the intelligence that Sankat seemed to have would be well aware of what would happen and what it would mean for his future to try and steal an Airbus. This means that those who are thinking that this was something related to terror could have grounds for being concerned about that.
As for his car, it had to be approached by robots before being towed away.
According to Technology Of Melbourne spokesman Adam Lowenstein, Sankat was taking “aviation management and had completed some flight training.” The university has promised to help in the investigation as some students of history draw parallels between these facts and the flight training of certain 911 hijackers.
Besides weapons and aviation, Sankat liked/likes war-themed video games. Furthermore, he “posted updates online pondering the 2014 disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and voiced concerns about Russia’s invasion of Crimea.” Like many people, he seemed to not give much credence to the fact that Crimea voted to join the Russians.
The student also wrote a tribute to Mikhail Kalashnikov when he died in 2013. He was the inventor of the AK-47. “I am deeply saddened by this event, R.I.P Mikhail Kalashnikov, A great leader [sic] and innovator, if it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t have these modern, yet efficient assault rifles that are available to both civilian and military use,” he typed. “One of my lifelong heroes is no longer with us. I will remember you! R.I.P.”
Some investigators are wondering if his viewpoints on one or more of these topics could have been at least part of his motive. What is known is that the airport needed to be evacuated and shut down for about five hours due to Sankat’s reckless stunt. Cars were lined up in nearby parking lots as the airport had to send everyone away.
While no one was harmed, it may have been that a proverbial bullet was dodged here. As the facts trickle in, it remains to be seen how true that statement is. People stealing (or attempting to steal) airplanes have been in the news a lot recently, but, this is the first possible terror threat in a while.