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Qatari diplomat to leave US after plane bomb scare

Mohammed al-Madadi to return to the Gulf after causing massive security alert over mid-flight terrorism ‘joke’.

April 10, 2010 11:06 by

The Qatari diplomat who caused a massive security alert on board a Denver-bound airliner will be leaving the United States “shortly” to head home for a new assignment, according to the US State Department.

A spokesman said that the Qatari government has decided to reassign Mohammed al-Madadi after he made a joke about lighting his shoe on fire on a US flight, having been caught smoking in the toilets of the plane.

No explosives were found on the Washington-to-Denver flight, and officials said they don’t think al-Madadi was trying to hurt anyone. He will not face criminal charges.

Al-Madadi – who has diplomatic immunity – was released from custody shortly after the incident. He was escorted by federal air marshals on his return flight to Washington, D.C.

A US spokesman said:”We’re satisfied that Qatar also recognized the seriousness of this situation has taken appropriate steps and we are grateful that Qatar and the United States were able to resolve this rapidly”.

The US authorities are increasingly edgy about air-borne terrorism after a Nigerian man was arrested for trying to set off explosives hidden in his underwear on a flight to Detroit in December 2009.

In 2001, Richard Reid, a self-confessed member of al-Qaeda, was subdued on a trans-Atlantic flight, after attempting to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes.

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