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07 April 2010

Air Marshal Subdues Suspicious Passenger on Washington to Denver Flight

April 7, 2010, 10:16 pm EDT - Early news reports indicated that a Federal Air Marshal subdued a passenger on United flight 663 during a Washington (DCA) to Denver flight after a passenger reportedly behaved oddly and claimed to have attempted to ignite some kind of device. The 757, which was carrying 157 passengers and six crew members, landed at Denver at about 7 p.m. local time without further incident, and there were no reports of any injuries.

About half an hour before landing, a passenger had been in the lavatory for some period of time, and was approached by an air marshal because of a smell of smoke. The passenger allegedly told an air marshal that he was a Qatari diplomat, and when asked what he was doing remarked that he had been trying to set his shoes on fire. The diplomat was later identified by CNN as Mohammaed Al-Madadi. The US State Department's Diplomatic List for Qatar lists a Mohammed Yaaqob Y.M. Al Madadi with the title of Third Secretary. No official source has confirmed that this was the person taken into custody on the incident flight.

The flight crew was notified, and NORAD scrambled two USAF F-16s that intercepted the airliner at about 6:45 p.m. and escorted the plane to Denver. Officials took the passenger into custody and interviewed the other passengers on the flight. There were no explosives or other dangerous articles found.

The 27-year-old diplomat was not charged, and was later released and allowed to return to Washington, DC.

Message from the Qatari Ambassador
Within hours of the incident, the Qatari ambassador to the US, Ali bin Fahad Al-Hajri, made the following statement:

Press reports today regarding an incident aboard a commercial flight from Washington, DC to Denver, CO indicate that a Qatari diplomat was detained for suspicious behavior.  We respect the necessity of special security precautions involving air travel, but this diplomat was traveling to Denver on official embassy business on my instructions, and he was certainly not engaged in any threatening activity.  the facts will reveal that this was a mistake, and we urge all concerned parties to avoid reckless judgments or speculation.

For a detailed timeline of this flight, check out this Atlantic magazine article.

1 comment:

  1. There is something greater than meets the eye here...This is not about an "INNOCENT" misunderstanding....The ridiculous part about it is that they let him go even after they knew he was on his way to visit a convicted terrorist...2 NOT 1... Air Marshalls on board???Yeah...Right!!!Nothing funny going on with this guy!!!!