Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Qatari Arrested After Attempting To Blow Up Denver Bound Flight

This is a developing story, but apparently a Qatari man, who MSNBC identifies as a Qatari diplomat, attempted to blow up a United Airlines flight from Washington DC to Denver, Colorado tonight, but was thwarted by a federal air marshal.
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.

"These new measures utilize real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

A senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the new system would require travelers who match information about terrorism suspects, such as a physical description, partial name or travel pattern, to undergo additional screening.
ABC News identifies the individual as a diplomat in the Qatar embassy in Washington, Mohammed al Modadi, and the FBI reported that he had full diplomat immunity as the 3rd secretary and vice-consul.

One has to wonder whether the individual was properly screened or whether he was able to avoid going through security because of his diplomatic status.

Flights in and out of DC get a disproportionate number of air marshal attention because of the flight path through DC and high profile targets (to say nothing of various important passengers on board. Not that I'm complaining about it - just a good allocation of a limited resource. And it would appear that they got their guy before he could do any harm.

Reports are now suggesting that the diplomat may have been joking about lighting a shoe bomb, but not that he actually had any such device, although MSNBC is reporting that the air marshal smelled smoke and confronted the man emerging from the bathroom.
A half hour before landing, an air marshal smelled smoke and confronted a man emerging from a bathroom who claimed he was trying to set his shoes on fire, WNBC reported.

It was uncertain if anything actually was on fire or if this was a joke, NBC reported. Investigators were looking to see what might be in the man's shoes.
If that is true, this guy is one arrogant and callous SOB for making a joke of such a serious matter - and one that has the potential to cause a diplomatic row between the US and Qatar, which is home to significant US military assets, including the home to the forward command of US Central Command.

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