Cablegate Chronicles: The Plane and the Shopping Mall

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A strange plane hijacking in Brazil.

FROM: BRASILIA, BRAZIL
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: MARCH 28, 2009
CLASSIFICATION: SECRET//NOFORN
SEE FULL CABLE

¶1. (S/NF) Ref B describes a March 12 incident in which a small private aircraft was stolen at gunpoint in Luziania (approximately 23 miles from Brasilia) and after two hours was intentionally crashed into a parking lot of a shopping mall in Goiania, approximately 90 miles from Brasilia. The incident was notable in that it provoked a rare activation of Brazil's shootdown procedures (described in ref a). Given the plane's proximity to the federal capital and lack of any flight plan, Brasilia Air Traffic Control notified Air Defense Control, which scrambled planes from Anapolis Air Base to intercept, observe and try to communicate (details in ref b). When the plane suddenly steered for a densely populated area and a large shopping mall, controllers began to view it as a threat. With the possibility that the stolen plane could be used as a weapon, Air Defense Command briefed Air Force Chief Brigadeiro Junito Saito. Saito then contacted Defense Minister Jobim and President Lula about the possibility of ordering a shootdown should there be a threat to civilians. During the discussion, the pilot went down in the mall parking lot.
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