Diplomat released after bomb scare on US plane

Hotel News - 08/04/2010

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Authorities, fearing a repeat of the infamous 2001 ‘shoe bomber’ incident involving Briton Richard Reid, scrambled F-16 jets in what ended up being nothing more than a very bad joke.

Qatari Mohammed al-Madadi, third secretary at the Embassy of Qatar in Washington, had apparently tried to smoke in the toilets of the Denver-bound jet. When questioned about the smell of smoke, the diplomat allegedly joked that he had been trying to set fire to his shoes.

Fearing another attempt to bring down an airliner, authorities had two military fighter aircraft escort United Airlines flight 663, which was flying from the US capital to Denver, Colorado.

When the aircraft, carrying more than 160 passengers and crew, arrived at Denver International Airport, police detained the man for questioning.

A lawyer representing the Qatari embassy said al-Madadi had been released and was headed back to Washington. Investigators said no explosives were found.

In the infamous 2001 shoe bomber incident, Richard Reid tried to destroy a jet carrying 197 passengers by igniting explosives in his shoe.

The latest scare comes only months after 23-year-old Nigerian Farouk Abdulmutallab was tackled by passengers on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit after attempting to detonate explosives in his pants.

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