Qatari diplomat on United flight mistaken for shoe-bomber

A Qatari diplomat aboard a United flight from Washington D.C. to Denver last night was mistakenly suspected of trying to blow up the plane after sneaking a cigarette in the airplane’s lavatory. The man, Mohammed al Modadi, was asked about the smell of smoke coming from the restroom and joked that he was trying to light his shoes on fire, a reference to the infamous incident with shoe-bomber Richard Reid.

The U.S. air marshall on board the flight apparently did not catch the humor. Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled and escorted the United flight into Denver approximately 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

Modadi was restrained and questioned while on board the flight; it’s unclear what criminal charges, if any, will be filed against him.

For more, check out The Atlantic‘s minute-by-minute account of the incident, which was originally falsely reported as a terrorist attack by several news outlets.