Flight 149: A Hostage Crisis, a Secret Special Forces Unit, and the Origins of the Gulf War

Stephen Davis. PublicAffairs, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5417-0005-5
Journalist Davis debuts with a doggedly researched chronicle of an obscure yet consequential episode in the Gulf War. On August 1, 1990, a British Airways flight from London to Kuala Lumpur made a scheduled refueling stop in Kuwait, even though Iraqi forces had just invaded the country. Drawing on interviews with passengers and crew members, Davis documents reassurances from the British Foreign Office that the flight “could safely proceed,” and the arrival, just before takeoff from Heathrow airport, of a group of “nine or ten muscular, clean-cut young men” who had a “military bearing.” By the time the plane landed in Kuwait City, the airport was under attack from Iraqi forces, who detained most of the passengers and crew. They, along with other Westerners held hostage elsewhere in Kuwait and Iraq, were verbally and physically abused and used as human shields. Drawing on testimony from British and American intelligence sources, Davis contends that U.K. officials, at the request of the Bush administration, used Flight 149 to insert a team of covert operatives into the country (they managed to leave the airport before the other passengers were captured). Davis provides plenty of support for his allegations, and movingly documents the psychological impact of the hostages’ ordeal. This investigation rings true. Agent: Emma Parry, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/09/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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