Thursday, April 8, 2010

Qatari Diplomat Mohammed al Modadi Sparks Plane Bombing Scare

As bad of an idea to scream fire in a crowded theater is, it is worse to say bomb on an airplane. What is even worse is to (depending on the accounts) tell an air marshal mid flight that you are trying to light your shoe on fire or touching your shoe to a flame. That is what Mohammed al Modadi in what was apparently a huge misunderstanding. For a while the prospects that terrorist organizations could recruit from the ranks of diplomats was thought to be true.

"When Qatari diplomat Mohammed al Modadi decided to light up a cigarette toward the end of United Airlines flight 663 from Washington, D.C., to Denver, Colorado, he probably did not anticipate that he would terrify the U.S. for 30 brief but harrowing minutes. The incident, falsely reported as an attempted terrorist attack, overtook the networks before being declared a "misunderstanding."
Modadi enters the airport bathroom and lights a cigarette. A flight attendant, smelling smoke, alerts an air marshal, who confronts Modadi. At this point, accounts differ. Either Modadi jokes that he was trying to light his shoe on fire, a reference to Richard Reid, who in 2001 tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoe while on a U.S. airline flight from Paris to Miami. Or, Modadi puts the cigarette out on his shoe, causing the air marshal to fear that he, like Reid, may have had explosive in his shoe. It's possible both occur. The air marshal restrains Modadi.

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