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Muslim Student Crashes Plane Near Major Defense Contractor in Connecticut

On Tuesday, October 12, a Muslim student pilot and an instructor were trying to land a Piper PA-34 Seneca at Brainard Airport in Hartford when it struck a utility pole in East Hartford and crashed onto the road at around 4 p.m., bursting into flames. The crash site is a short distance from the airport, across the Connecticut River and in line with the runway.

The crash site was near Pratt & Whitney, a major defense contractor that produces military jet engines, which spurred the police chief to bring in federal law enforcement.

Police say the badly injured surviving passenger, the flight instructor, was hospitalized with serious burns but was talking with investigators. He said that this crash was not an accident and the pilot had done it intentionally.

Jordanian Muslim student pilot Feras M. Freitekh, who died in the crash, had come to the United States on a temporary visa in 2012 to attend flight school. 

The FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board has gotten involved in the case. The FBI has since raided an apartment in Hartford where Freitekh lived along with three other foreign nationals who are also studying to become pilots.

East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc said it was “troubling” to hear that the crash was intentional, but said “stories change and information can be skewed. We’re waiting for the facts to come out.”

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