Suspect "Subdued" By Air Marshal
Wednesday night, a man with diplomatic ties was reportedly subdued by a federal air marshal after he tried to light something on fire aboard United Flight 663, a Boeing 757 inbound to Denver from Washington Reagan, according to early (still vague) reports. Later reports suggested the man may simply have been trying to sneak a smoke before landing. ABC reported that the suspect, Mohammed al Modadi, held a position as 3rd secretary and vice-consul at the Qatar embassy in Washington and that the FBI said the position gave Modadi "full diplomat immunity." Two F-16 fighters were scrambled from Buckley Air Force Base to meet the flight as it flew its final 40 miles to a landing at Denver. The aircraft landed safely.
After the landing, the airliner was reportedly directed to a remote area of the airport and a team of explosives experts were summoned. First reports had suggested the episode may have been an attempted shoe bombing and that the air marshals restrained the man until landing. No conclusive determination regarding the event was available at the time AVweb went to press, but The Associated Press reported that no explosives were found on the man.