UPDATE 2.08pm: A QATARI diplomat has caused a mid-air panic after reportedly putting a cigarette out on his sandals during a US flight.
ABC News earlier this hour reported that a Qatari diplomat attempted to ignite a shoe bomb on a United Airlines flight with 157 passengers aboard.
Authorities have identified the passenger as Mohammed al-Modadi, who has full diplomatic immunity as the third secretary and vice-consul of the Qatari embassy in Washington, according to the network.
In a story filed moments ago the network reported:
Authorities say the diplomat was wrestled to the ground and two F-16 fighter jets were dispatched to accompany the 757 on the final 40 minutes of its flight to Denver. Flight 663 originated from Washington Reagan airport.
A US security official said, “It may have been a massive misunderstanding” and the diplomat’s statement may have been a “sarcastic” comment when he was confronted by two air marshals who had been told by flight attendants that smoke was coming from the lavatory.
Massive, I guess!
The suspect may have tried to light his shoes or something else in an attempt to cover up another smell, the source told Fox News, and other reports suggest the man might have been putting out a cigarette. However, authorities have come to no final conclusion yet and continue to investigate.
The Associated Press cited unnamed sources saying the FBI is investigating the incident. The Transportation Safety Administration confirmed it was “monitoring” the incident, saying initial reports described a passenger “possibly causing a disturbance.”
The San Francisco Chronicle is now reporting:
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.
DOESN’T THIS GUY KNOW CIGARETTES ARE HAZARDOUS TO HIS HEALTH?!
Barack Obama wants everyone who jumped to conclusions, rushed to judgment, made a hasty assumption, or otherwise had a bad thought about Arabs, Persians, Muslims or others who smell strongly of curry and smoke in airplane lavatories, to be ashamed of themselves.