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Archive for Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Air marshal subdues man trying to sneak a cigarette on DC-Denver flight

Onboard officials believed man may have been trying to ignite shoe bomb

April 7, 2010, 10:04 p.m. Updated April 7, 2010, 11:33 p.m.

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— A Qatari diplomat trying to sneak a smoke in an airplane bathroom sparked a bomb scare Wednesday night on a flight from Washington to Denver, with fighter jets scrambled and law enforcement put on high alert, officials said.

No explosives were found on the man, and officials do not believe he was trying to harm anyone, according to a senior law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An Arab diplomat briefed on the matter identified the diplomat as Mohammed Al-Madadi.

Two law enforcement officials said investigators were told the man was asked about the smell of smoke in the bathroom and he made a joke that he had been trying to light his shoes — an apparent reference to the 2001 so-called "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.

The sources asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Officials said air marshals aboard the flight restrained the man and he was questioned. The plane landed safely as military jets were scrambled.

Hours after the plane landed, the man was still being interviewed by investigators, and it was unclear what if any charges he might face.

Jayne Smith, 61, of Laramie, Wyo., said her husband, Scott, was on the United flight and was being interviewed by authorities. Jayne Smith also flew in from Washington, D.C., on Wednesday but on a different flight, and was waiting for her husband at the airport.

She said he called her and said he didn't see anything on the flight because the incident occurred in the first-class section and he was at the back of the plane.

"He just said someone had a temper tantrum," Jayne Smith said.

She said her husband told her that he and the other passengers were being interviewed at a fire station.

"He just said there were scads of officers around," she said. "I'm sure he was rolling his eyes."

Emergency vehicles' flashing red lights surrounded a fire station at Denver International Airport, and two buses, apparently carrying passengers from the flight, left the station for an unknown location.

Inside the terminal, passengers from other flights picked up their luggage at baggage carriers, apparently unaware of any emergency.

The airport remained open during the incident, and spokesman Jeff Green said no flights were delayed or canceled.

A senior State Department official said the agency was aware of the tentative identification of the man as a Qatari diplomat and that there would be "consequences, diplomatic and otherwise" if he had committed a crime.

The latest edition of department's Diplomatic List, a registry of foreign diplomats working in the United States, identifies a man named Mohammed Yaaqob Y.M. Al-Madadi as the third secretary for the Qatari Embassy in Washington. Third secretary is a relatively low-ranking position at any diplomatic post and it was not immediately clear what his responsibilities would have been.

Foreign diplomats in the United States, like American diplomats posted abroad, have broad immunity from prosecution. The official said if the man's identity as a Qatari diplomat was confirmed and if it was found that he may have committed a crime, U.S. authorities would have to decide whether to ask Qatar to waive his diplomatic immunity so he could be charged and tried. Qatar could decline, the official said, and the man would likely be expelled from the United States.

The Boeing 757 was carrying 157 passengers and six crew members, said Michael Trevino, a spokesman for United Airlines. The flight left Reagan National Airport at 5:19 p.m. EDT and landed in Denver International Airport at 7 p.m. MDT, Trevino said.

The flight crew radioed air traffic control to ask that the flight be met on the ground by law enforcement, he said.

Comments

frank mcguinness 4 years, 8 months ago

If you have flown on an airline in the decade then you are aware there is no smoking on a flight. If that was the case then the man should be deported for being so stupid.

bigdave 4 years, 8 months ago

I just love to see my taxes at work!! What a joke!!!!

independent_rebel 4 years, 8 months ago

Diplomatic immunity. I've hated that term ever since I watched Lethal Weapon something or other.

If they try to deport him, the ACLU will be there to fight for him. I say deport him for the simple fact that if you are going to sneak in a smoke, make the smoke something worthwhile. A cigarette? C'mon, man!

mr_right_wing 4 years, 8 months ago

Looks like obama may get to issue his very first Presidential Pardon!

Come on....smoker to smoker; he was just having a nicotine fit....barry can sympathize with that!

Maybe he'll even invite him to the White House for a smoke....

Paula Kissinger 4 years, 8 months ago

I thought that lighters, matches, etc., were not to be carried on the plane. What did he light this with ?

vega 4 years, 8 months ago

Just ANY dumb excuse to smear our President...

bearded_gnome 4 years, 8 months ago

stupid @$$! make a joke about lighting your shoes on fire?

3rd secretary for the embassy of Dopeslapia.

indeed, just what did he light it with? rubbed two sticks together?

I say we bill Qatar for all the fighters, the responders, LEO's,etc. plus, bill them for the trouble caused to average americans aboard the flight.

all because he couldn't wait for his stogie.

Eride 4 years, 8 months ago

Sigh, this is what paranoia gets you.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 8 months ago

What are the odds that Dear Leader does the same thing on Air Force One?

Flap Doodle 4 years, 8 months ago

Another innocent person of color being stepped on by the Christo-fascists!

tomatogrower 4 years, 8 months ago

More reasons to quit smoking: lung cancer and flight delays. The flight delays might be more deadly if the passengers turn on you.

gccs14r 4 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the Quatari Embassy will make him fly coach from now on. Oh, the horror!

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