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Diplomat’s Smoking Causes Airplane Bomb Scare

A Qatari diplomat sparked a bomb scare after surreptitiously smoking in an airplane bathroom on a flight from Washington National Airport to Denver on Wednesday. Mohammed Al-Madadi was sitting in first class when a flight attendant smelled smoke in the forward bathroom. When Al-Madadi was confronted by federal air marshals, he denied smoking and made a sarcastic reference to trying to set his shoes on fire. Federal air marshals questioned him, learned that he had in fact been illegally smoking and then sat with him for the rest of the flight, which was without incident.

The marshals activated a national alert system for all planes in flight through the pilot. Fighter jets were scrambled, and President Obama was warned about a possible terrorist threat.

Al-Madadi was arrested once the plane landed in Denver, but was later released. In Denver, the plane was isolated and passengers were interviewed and inconvenienced by hours of delayed release. Their delay did not affect other flights. Due to diplomatic immunity from U.S. prosecution, he will not be criminally charged. Al-Madadi was on his way to visit Ali Al-Marri, a convicted Qatari Al-Qaeda sleeper agent serving an eight year sentence. Alison Bradley, the embassy spokeswoman, said such consular visits with Al-Marri have occurred monthly since the middle of last year.

A State Department official said Al-Madadi will be sent back to Qatar.

See Washington Post for more.


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