The FBI is investigating claims that Feras Majdii Mohammad Freitekh, a Jordanian Muslim student pilot, who came to the U.S. to attend flight school, intentionally crashed a light aircraft, killing himself and injuring three others, including the flight instructor and two people on the ground. Several Muslim friends and relatives of Freitekh posted on Facebook that they ‘forgave’ him. ‘God have mercy on you captain and forgive you my brother,’ wrote Abu Taj, over a picture of Feitekh kissing the a plane. Saifeddin M. Al-Hussein added: ‘May God have mercy on him and forgive him.’
UK Daily Mail The Piper PA 34 was being flown by Feras M. Freitekh and his instructor when it crashed on Main Street in East Hartford at around 3.45pm on Tuesday, resulting in what one witness described as a ‘mushroom cloud explosion.’ The instructing pilot, who is awake in hospital and speaking with police but has not been named, said that his student Freitekh had crashed the plane on purpose, law enforcement sources told the Times. Counter-terrorism officials are now investigating the crash.
Student pilot Freitekh, 28, (pictured below) a Jordanian Muslim national, was killed in the crash, according to reports by the New York Times. His instructor was rushed to hospital with serious burns. Two people in a minivan close to the landing site were also hospitalized.
The FBI is now investigating whether the crash, near aerospace manufacturer and defense contractor Pratt & Whitney’s headquarters was intentional, after the instructor pilot claimed the plane was intentionally crashed.
The plane had taken off from Brainard Airport in Hartford, according to Mayor Marcia Leclerc, and crashed near the intersection of Main Street and Colt Street, just under half a mile away. According to the FAA, the plane was on final approach to Hartford-Brainard Airport.
The aircraft struck a utility pole and wires as it came down, bursting into a ‘mushroom cloud explosion’ and causing 520 power outages, according to Fox61.
‘As far as the occupants of the plane, he is expected to survive. He is cooperating with investigators he’s actually speaking with detectives as part of this investigation as ongoing,’ said East Hartford Police Lt. Josh Litwin, the Hartford Courant reports.
Freitekh came to the U.S. from Jordan in 2012 to go to flight school. He later attended a language school in Toledo, Ohio. Federal Aviation Administration records show he was issued a private pilot certificate on May 29, 2015, and was certified to fly a single-engine plane.
The state’s counter-terrorism unit have joined the FBI, State Police Central District Crime Squad and Fire and Explosion Investigations Unit in the multi agency investigation.
East Hartford police Chief Scott Sansom said the agency was investigating because the crash occurred suspiciously close to Pratt & Whitney, which he described as ‘critical infrastructure.’