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The Bombing of Gulf Air Flight 771

Gulf Air Flight 771 was a regularly scheduled flight from Karachi, Pakistan to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. On 23 September 1983, while the Boeing 737-2P6 was on approach to Abu Dhabi International Airport, the airplane "suddenly lowered its altitude" abruptly and crashed 30 miles north-east of the airport, near Mina Jebel Ali in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. All 110 people on board, including 5 crew members, died.
The plane crashed near Mina Jebel Ali
 In the aftermath of the incident, an anonymous Gulf Air official stated that "the airliner crashed due to an accident in midair" and declined to elaborate. Karachi's airport control tower was said to have received a distress call from the ill-fated plane, minutes prior to its crash. [1]

What happened?

An investigation was carried out by the American National Transportation Safety Board, and they released a 400-page report on their findings, which was not immediately published in the Gulf. The report was revealed in September 1987 by British politician Sir Dudley Smith, under pressure from the parents of British stewardess Lyn Farthing who perished in the crash. Others among the crew on board included British stewardess Sally Anne of Peterborough and Bahraini steward Hashim Sayed Abdullah.

A Gulf Air Boeing 737-2P6
The report included last moments in the cockpit, including a description of Omani captain Saoud Al Kindy praying as the plane nose-dived into the desert. Also on the flight deck was Bahraini co-pilot was Khazal Al Qadi. The report mentioned that everything on board the flight was perfectly normal and voice transcripts showed the crew chatting among themselves. One asked the other if he was on duty the next day, to which he replied "No, I've got a day off tomorrow". That was followed by a sudden interruption and the recording showed the pilots making a frantic attempt to control the plane.

The report indicated a bomb in the baggage hold as the primary cause of the accident, due to the following factors:
  1. A passenger who checked in baggage at Karachi but never boarded the plane.
  2. The nature of injuries to passengers who were seated above the baggage hold.
  3. A sudden interruption to an otherwise normally operating flight.     
  4. Data obtained from the aircraft's flight data recorder.
Who bombed Gulf Air Flight 771?

Evidence points to Abu Nidal, a radical Palestinian extremist and head of the militant Palestinian splinter group also known as the Abu Nidal organization.


105 passengers and 5 crew members were on the airplane. All 110 died. 96 Pakistanis (most of whom were returning from spending Eid holidays in their native Pakistan), 7 Britons, One American and one Iranian.

Gulf Daily News' frontpage on after the crash


  1. Nice post i really appreciate you and i would like to say that Gulf airline have to start flights to islamabad from UK, USA, and other main countries.

  2. this post is false information. Nice cover up

    1. O'rlly? Well, I guess these newspaper reports from the 1980s have to be false, right?

      this and this

      And this report as well...

      And why not this too?

      The sources are all here, whether you want to believe them is up to you.

    2. All due respect, in an air crash all those sources that you have mentioned are not worth the papers they are written on. These are either speculations or a copy of what some officials said. There has to be forensic evidence, physical proof and data analysis of FDR and CVR to come up with the cause. None of that is publically available until now. The government of Abu Dhabi elected NOT to publish the official report that was conducted by NTSB accident investigators on their behalf. The current regulations of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) allow the state of accident the option of NOT publishing the report or making its findings public.
      Why would Abu Dhabi refuse to publish the accident report if the guilty party is a terrorist organization as claimed? Surely, it will remove any doubts about its responsibility in the accident?
      In 1983, the war between Iran and Iraq was at its peak. Iran has threatened Abu Dhabi as the emirate was supplying aids in all sorts of forms to the Iraqi regime. Abu Dhabi, taking Iran’s threats very seriously, set up an Air Defense Battery with the aid of UK Government. The system included an automatic firing function using highly accurate radars. Targets within certain ranges were fired upon without warning by heat seeking missiles. There were many danger and prohibited zones that were no-fly zones for civilian traffic established around the Persian Gulf at the time. Quite a few were in Abu Dhabi, including the area where the GF 771 crashed.
      BTW: the crash site is not north east of Abu Dhabi, but South East. Jebel Ali is part of Emirates of Dubai and not Abu Dhabi.

    3. Jebel Ali is 110km NORTH EAST of Abu Dhabi


    1. Yes. This is correct. I was living in Abu Dhabi at the time.

    2. this is what we all thought and still think. ex GF crew member 1980-1985. I hope truth will come out for GF and yesterday MH in the Ukraine.

  4. Salam to all. Guys, come on. The US NTSB issued a 400-page report and the field officers on site clearly showed evidence of an explosion that originated from within the aircraft (i.e. fuselage parts were blown outwards). In case of a missle attack, the debry would be thrown inwards. So if its a cover up conspiracy, then it would mean that the US, Bahraini, UAE and Pakistan governments quickly covered up the crime. Also, it was an American built Boeing plane so someone from Boeing also would have said that it was shot down.
    Finally, please check what one of Abu Nidal's closest aides at the time said recently. He said that the Abu Nidal organization had at that time specialist bomb-makers who were very good at hiding timer-bombs within electronic equipment like tape-recorders. Also, Karachi police tried to track down the mystery passenger who had checked in his luggage but then never boarded the flight. Unfortunately there were no cameras at many airports at that time (1983) and so he got away.

    I lost an uncle, aunt (good family friends) with their 3-year old son on that flight. It was a major tragedy. The facts were that a fanatical organization (secular, terrorist group), the Abu Nidal group, were behind the bombing - they hit a Gulf country airline with mostly Pakistan passengers to extort money.

    Look at Abu Nidal's end: himself killed in Iraq by Saddam's intelligences agencies many years later.

    While the above could be wrong account of what really happened, the probability of that is very small. In fact, it was another foreign country that spread rumours that it was a missle strike with the objective of causing confusion and fracturing ties between UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Pakistan and the USA because at that time that country was a cold war ally of Soviet Union (dominated by Russia).

    Muslims need to badly turn towards being properly educated, smart and aware of the games people try to play with them. We need proper structures in our countries that educate our people so that we can build stronger nations in the years to come. Events like these should be used as inflection points in our history but sadly we keep forgetting and moving on in life as if no one tried to hurt us.

    Let's wake up from slumber to build a better world for ourselves: all you need is honesty, education and faith. Allah wants us to use our brains and to make this planet a better place.


    1. Please guide me to the NTSB 400 page reports about the accident.

      There is no way that NTSB can issue an accident report on behalf of the foreign authority which has assigned it to investigate an accident., which is normally the state where that accident occurred. Period.

    2. 100% correct. The NTSB would not issue any such report as they are not the authority to so, after all this was not an "N" registered aircraft, i.e. American registration but it was an "A40" registration, i.e. Arabian Gulf. Yes the aircraft came down by ground to air missile, not British made but American system called Eye Hawk.
      The rest will remain for history.....

  5. I was living in Bahrain at the time and Lyn Farthing was my friend. She was always bubbly, fun and very kind. Everyone liked her. She is missed by all who knew her.

    1. Indeed she was. She was the only Cabin Crew I knew personally on that flight.

  6. My father was going to board the plane but he missed his another flight and he couldnt board ..

  7. There will always be arguments and disputes between the advocates of the two theories, the shooting down or the bomb on board version. After 31 years , I personally have not made up my mind on what really caused that tragedy despite looking at hundreds of pictures from the crash site showing tiny parts of the fuselage scattered all over the desert. Debris from the aircraft was found in wide areas. I am ex pilot and currently an aviation safety specialist. With all my knowledge, background, careful analysis of every fact out of this tragedy and for many years, I still cannot figure out without doubt, what the real reason is. It could be any one of them as the evidence can indicate either.
    One thing that I am sure of, is that there was some kind of political cover up. You should never expect the full truth in this part of the world. If anyone can find the official version of the accident report, please let me know. Good luck finding it, though.
    What remains from that tragedy are memories of the loved ones we lost. Close friends and colleagues who lost their lives while performing their duties. For Capt. Saud Al Kindy , First Officer Khazal Al Qadhi and the rest of the crew and passengers , God bless your souls.

  8. This is the saddest incidence in our lives, lost my real aunt, her husband and 3 small kids, lost another loving uncle, and a very dear school going friend and his sister...cannot forget it, its deeply engraved in my memory.May there soul rest in Heaven forever!

  9. My aunty is the above mentioned Sally Anne (Cabin crew on striken GF771) as a family even 31 years on this haunts us all. In light of the dreadful air incidents in the far east of late it just bring back awful memories for my family ... i was too young to remember (all of 3 years old) at the time but have investigated alot over the years as ive got older, this is the first time i have found this article but found it, although upsetting, very interesting and the comments that have followed so THANK YOU

  10. My Elder brother was on that plane too.He was just married 20 days before,May God bless his soul.He was only 19 years old.

  11. I was a gulf air stewardess at that time and was friendly with both Sally Anne and Lyn, I flew with them many times. Even after so many years I still remember Sally Anne's lovely face and Lyn's huge sense of fun. Missed and never forgotten by their colleagues.

  12. Does anybody know where the deceased are buried etc
    i had an uncle aunty and there children in that plane...i would like to visit 1 day ....

  13. Does anyone know where the mass grave for the passengers and air crew is? Someone closely related wants to visit.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Thank you for sharing. Your blog posts are more interesting and informative. Plan your trip with Rafiyatravels and save like never before on Kolkata flights. Book now and go! Dhaka to kolkata air ticket price

  16. I knew an American pilot in 1990s in UAE who told me he had been to NTSB in Washington. He told me he had been given access to the report, as is allowed under US freedom of information act. He confirmed to me that GF771 was indeed shot down by a missile. He had no reason to tell me a lie. I was on duty in Gulf Air HQ on that day. I spoke to the crew before they boarded the flight. Exactly 35 yrs ago today. A day I will always remember.


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