Passenger's 'Shoe Bomb' Allegedly Cigarette, Not Explosive

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Posted: Apr 07, 2010 10:11 PM
ABC News is reporting that a passenger with diplomatic papers from Qatar is currently in federal custody tonight after air marshals on board a Denver-bound flight subdued him:

Federal air marshals subdued a man who authorities say attempted to "light his shoes on fire" on a United flight from Washington Reagan to Denver Wednesday night, federal law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Authorities say an explosive team is on the way to the airport, and that while the presence of explosives has not yet been confirmed, they believe it was an attempted "shoe bomb."

The suspect was identified by authorities as a diplomat in the Qatar embassy in Washington, Mohammed al Modadi. The FBI said the man had full diplomat immunity as the 3rd secretary and vice-consul.

Authorities said two jet fighters were scrambled from Buckley Air Force Base to accompany United flight 663, a Boeing 757, as it flew the final 40 miles to Denver where it landed safely.

Authorities said the man, identified as from Qatar, was restrained by the air marshals who were on the flight.

Update: According to CNN, another diplomat is saying that this is a misunderstanding. The story is that the man currently in custody was caught smoking in the lavatory (federal crime) and when challenged by an air marshal about the smell of smoke, the man mouthed off sarcastically, "I was trying to light my shoes on fire."  As a result, jets were scrambled, the plane was quarantined and the FBI is on the scene. 

If this report is accurate, Joe Biden should let this guy know that security on airplanes is "a big f-ing deal" in America and this stunt was NOT COOL.