Breaking: Attempted terror attack on U.S. flight thwarted? Update: Misunderstanding?

posted at 10:10 pm on April 7, 2010 by Allahpundit

All I’ve got so far is Twitter reports from CNN and NBC (via Breaking News) reporting that a guy tried to detonate explosives by lighting a fuse in his shoes on a flight from D.C. to Denver. Gabe Malor, who has his own source and who actually had this story posted before the news services did, has more details claiming that the alleged perp has a diplomatic passport from Qatar, but I haven’t seen that confirmed anywhere else.

Stand by for updates, needless to say.

Update: CNN now backtracking, saying all they’ve confirmed so far is an “airport disturbance.” If you’re wondering whether Reagan National Airport has the new full-body scanners that were rolled out after Abdulmutallab’s attempted attack, the answer apparently is affirmative.

Update: Your suspect is Mohammed al-Modadi.

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.

Fighter jets were scrambled to escort the plane in. If not for the air marshals on board who tackled him…

Update: NBC has a story up too but without much detail. Note this:

The latest incident comes a week after the United States announced new security measures to replace the mandatory screening of air travelers from 14 countries that had angered some allies when it was imposed after a failed bombing on Christmas Day.

The measures were designed to significantly reduce the number of passengers pulled aside for additional screening and will not be based on nationality or passport, but on characteristics pulled together by intelligence agencies.

Well, Qatar wasn’t among the 14 countries designated for special screening and in any case this flight originated from inside the U.S., not abroad.

Update: Maddow just asked a good question on MSNBC: Did this guy’s diplomatic credentials help get him past security at the airport?

Update: On MSNBC, Pete Williams says they haven’t found any explosives in his shoes yet and thinks it might be a huge misunderstanding. Supposedly al-Modadi got up to use the bathroom around 30 minutes before the flight landed; he was in there for awhile and when he came out an air marshal smelled smoke. When the marshal asked him what he was doing in the bathroom, al-Modadi supposedly said, “I was trying to light my shoes on fire.” In fact, he might have simply been having a cigarette and responding sarcastically, which I guess the marshal didn’t pick up on. Again, this is all from Williams. I’ll update when I see something contradictory. Incidentally, until a few minutes ago,’s own headline for this story was “NBC News: Airline bombing foiled.” Now it’s “NBC: Passenger subdued aboard United jet.”

Update: The story at has the details I just mentioned in the last update.

Update: Greta is also reporting that no explosives have been found and that the smoke in the bathroom might have been al-Modadi’s attempt to, ahem, “cover up another smell.”

Update: ABC has updated and they’re leaning towards the same explanation now as NBC. What we may be looking at here is the scariest smoke break in aviation history:

A US security official said, “it may have been a massive misunderstanding” and the diplomat’s statement may have been a “sarcastic” comment when he was confronted by two air marshals who had been told by flight attendants that smoke was coming from the lavatory.

Breaking on Hot Air



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على الرحب والسعة

daesleeper on April 8, 2010 at 1:39 AM

Aleph on April 8, 2010 at 1:32 AM

على الرحب والسعة

daesleeper on April 8, 2010 at 1:39 AM

You don’t make such jokes.

Phoenician on April 8, 2010 at 1:46 AM

My husband was on a flight tonight flying from the East Coast to the West Coast while this was happening.

Lets just say that it has been a very stressful evening.

Thank goodness I just received a text that his plane has landed.

This whole thing smells funny.

Willow on April 8, 2010 at 1:50 AM

Is it safe to come back… naturalboy,nuttoro, nut-torro-boy or whatever his name gone…?

R Square on April 8, 2010 at 1:51 AM


“Pull my finger…”

Seven Percent Solution on April 8, 2010 at 1:52 AM

Two women is an epidemic?
thomasaur on April 7, 2010 at 11:36 PM

It’s NB’s delusions of grandeur at work. He fantasizes about an epidemic of fists choking his chicken during his frequent attempts to attain higher self-awareness, but he’s merely ambidextrous.

ya2daup on April 8, 2010 at 2:14 AM

Well, Mohammed al-Modadi, is quite the master diplomat, eh? What a master of defusing tensions this Qatari is. With genius diplomats like this working around the clock, it’s a wonder the crisis in the Middle East isn’t solved by now.

Tantor on April 8, 2010 at 4:34 AM

Tantor on April 8, 2010 at 4:34 AM

I believe the term persona non grata works here.

And the Ambassador from Qatar should get busy on an apology.

Today would fine by me.

CPT. Charles on April 8, 2010 at 5:11 AM

Could of been worse,he could of passed gas,
at the precise time he lit his cigarette,
and he might of Ka-Blewy-eed the bathroom,
resulting in a catostophic failure of the
fuseladge integrity!!

Jus sayin!(a tad snark).

canopfor on April 8, 2010 at 5:45 AM

My sister once made
A joke like that in Kenya.
Confined for two days…

Haiku Guy on April 8, 2010 at 6:38 AM

Me thinks this was a setup.

Cause a disturbance, make a statement sounding like terrorism, freak everyone out, embarrass the air marshals, cause the liberals to demand that the air marshals quit racial profiling. Then put air marshals in sensitivity training for the next 9 months and then we get a plane that goes BOOM because everyone was to afraid to do their job because nobody wanted to be called a racist.

RobertInLexington on April 8, 2010 at 6:38 AM

Of course it was just a misunderstanding, we are always misunderstanding the peaceful intentions actions of the devotees to the Religion of blow your ass to Pieces…

doriangrey on April 8, 2010 at 7:21 AM

what a bonehead…

cmsinaz on April 8, 2010 at 7:34 AM

A guy named Mohammed taking a smoke break then joking about a “shoe bomb” while on board a plane. And hiding behind diplomatic credentials.

Scuff him up.

ted c on April 8, 2010 at 7:56 AM

Aw, he was wearing sandals, just like Jesus.

Buy Danish on April 8, 2010 at 8:01 AM

RobertInLexington on April 8, 2010 at 6:38 AM

DING DING!! We have a winnah.

angryed on April 8, 2010 at 8:21 AM

In the late 80s I was at the airport… and I said PRIVATELY to my mom, “Don’t tell anyone, but I have an F-16 fighter in my suitcase.” I was overheard by someone of an official capacity and warned that my joke may have violated a federal law.

Surely, in 2010, kidding WHILE ON A PLANE IN FLIGHT that you were lighting your shoes on fire must (a) be against the law and (b) require the marshal to take action… “sarcasm” or not.

mankai on April 8, 2010 at 8:26 AM

Sneaking a smoke in the bathroom. Something Obama might pull.

MaiDee on April 8, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Effing diplomats think laws don’t apply to them. What an arrogant prat.

WannabeAnglican on April 8, 2010 at 8:34 AM

Definitely a dry run intended to test the system and cause terror on the flight. And this is just a “misunderstanding?” Anyone who thinks this was an unintentional “misunderstanding” is just stupid, period, and part of the reason we are losing the war on Muslim terror.

Please wake up, AllahPundit. Could anyone NOT a Muslim get away with something like this and not be charged?

Gabe on April 8, 2010 at 8:34 AM

This was only a test. Say, isn’t smoking on a plane a federal offense? Guess they can’t prove it since he flushed the evidence. Why does a diplomat from DC need to go to Denver anyway? They should all be restricted to the DC area. The last cell group to be arrested was from Denver, what’s in the water there.

Kissmygrits on April 8, 2010 at 8:37 AM

Who wants to bet, that this was a test of an emergency response? This guy should be held for questioning as well as every passenger who was on the plane who fits profile (who might have been checking response by marshals and their number and positions on the plane. They could be also trying to wear out vigilance, by staging a number of false attacks, kinda like a boy who cried wolf.

anikol on April 8, 2010 at 9:46 AM

The Air Marshalls acted stupidly.


bitsy on April 8, 2010 at 9:58 AM

“official business” to test the current level of security for his ‘friends’ in Qatar…

The ‘test’ is a form of terrorism in itself. Send him to Gitmo. Immunity or not…

phreshone on April 8, 2010 at 10:02 AM

According to AOSHQ al-Modadi has been released and will not be facing charges of any kind and had returned to Washington DC.

Is anybody surprised though?

Shogun144 on April 8, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Stealth Jihad

Disturb the Universe on April 8, 2010 at 10:23 AM

“I was trying to light my shoes on fire.” In fact, he might have simply been having a cigarette and responding sarcastically, which I guess the marshal didn’t pick up on.

I would think an air marshall may be trained not to attempt to interpret tone and just act on what they see and hear. As it should be.

curved space on April 8, 2010 at 10:23 AM

The diplomat should be fired immediately. That kind of arrogance has no place in today’s world.

AnninCA on April 8, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Funny coincidence he’s a muslim…..just having a SMOKE!

xler8bmw on April 8, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Simple: cigarettes/pipes/tobacco banned on all flights.
Automatic jail time + massive fine if you’re caught smoking.

The end.

Dave Rywall on April 8, 2010 at 1:45 PM


What he was trying to do is proposition another passenger by telling him he was “LIGHT IN HIS LOAFERS“….

CynicalOptimist on April 8, 2010 at 2:29 PM

I just saw something on FOX that said this “diplomat” was on his way to visit an Al Qaeda agent who is in jail… nice.

D2Boston on April 8, 2010 at 3:34 PM