AMSTERDAM -- Dutch F-16s escorted a
Police spokesman Rob Staenacker said he could not disclose their nationalities or the nature of the suspicions against them, only that ``12 people have been arrested." An American passenger, who identified herself only as Alpa, told AP Television News she saw about a dozen people taken off the plane in handcuffs.
While Flight No. 42 to Mumbai was over German airspace shortly after takeoff, the pilot radioed for permission to return to Schiphol Airport and asked for an escort of jet fighters because some of the passengers were acting suspiciously, the Defense Ministry said.
``A number of them behaved, in the opinion of the crew, in a suspicious manner," said the ministry. ``As a result, the captain asked to return to Schiphol."
A US government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said crew members and air marshals observed the passengers trying to use cellphones and passing them among themselves while the airliner was taking off.
``It was behavior that average passengers wouldn't do," the official said.
The DC-10 was escorted back to Schiphol by two F-16s scrambled from a northern military airfield, the Defense Ministry said. Routine security measures were swiftly put into place.
The Northwest flight left Minneapolis at 3:19 p.m. Tuesday, landing in Amsterdam at 6:20 a.m. yesterday and taking off at 10:25 a.m. for Mumbai, according to Northwest's website, Bloomberg News service reported.
The plane was carrying 149 passengers, when it turned around after crossing the German border. A Northwest DC-10 has a normal seating capacity of 273.
The Dutch National Terrorism Coordinator's Office was informed, but said there was no reason to raise the national threat level, spokeswoman Judith Sluiter said. The flight was canceled until today, and the passengers were put up in hotels, Northwest said.
``It is the same as it was before -- light threat," said Sluiter.
Like airports around the world, Schiphol raised the level of security two weeks ago when British police announced they had uncovered a plot to blow up several US-bound commercial jetliners.
Several alerts have been sounded since the terrorism plot was outlined in London. On Friday, a British plane made an emergency landing in southern Italy after a bomb scare, and the US Air Force scrambled jets to escort a United Airlines flight from London to Washington as it was diverted to Boston. Yesterday's security alert was the first at Amsterdam's international airport since September, when a