| WASHINGTON/NEW YORK
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK Oct 13 U.S. investigators
believe a Jordanian student pilot was trying to kill himself
when he crashed a small plane in Connecticut this week but do
not believe he was affiliated with militant groups, two federal
officials familiar with the probe said on Thursday.
Feras Freitekh, 28, was with a flight instructor in a
twin-engine Piper PA-34 Seneca when the plane slammed into a
utility pole on Tuesday and burst into flames in East Hartford.
Freitekh died in the crash and the instructor was badly injured.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on
Wednesday that its initial investigation indicated the crash was
"the result of an intentional act," and the FBI joined the
Investigators came to believe that the crash was a suicide
attempt by Freitekh after speaking with the instructor, said the
two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
There is no evidence Freitekh shouted religious statements
before the crash and nothing else pointing to terrorism, the
officials said. Freitekh had not been known to U.S. intelligence
East Hartford Police Lieutenant Joshua Litwin said at a news
conference on Wednesday that he did not know who was flying the
plane at the time of the crash. The aircraft had two sets of
controls, allowing either person to pilot the plane.
Freitekh and the instructor, Arian Prevalla, argued and
fought for control before the crash, the Hartford Courant
reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources.
East Hartford police and the FBI field office in Connecticut
could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.
The crash occurred across the street from the headquarters
of aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United
Technologies Corp. Investigators looked into whether the
manufacturer was possibly targeted.
Investigators, however, believe the plane was on the final
approach to a small airport in East Hartford and had been
cleared by air traffic controllers to land, one of the federal
Freitekh became certified last year as a private pilot for
single-engine planes, according to Federal Aviation
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and David Ingram in
New York; editing by Grant McCool)