Alleged Qatari diplomat subdued on board U.S. airliner

13:39, April 08, 2010      

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The man who was allegedly trying to ignite his shoes on board a Washington-Denver United airliner was identified as a Qatari diplomat and preliminary investigation showed that he did not mean to hurt anyone, local media outlets reported Wednesday.

An air marshal smelled smoke and confronted a man emerging from a bathroom who claimed he was trying to set his shoes on fire a half hour before landing, according to reports. The marshal subdued the man and the pilot alerted authorities including FBI and Transportation Security Administration. A pre-recorded message from Denver International Airport confirmed a "security incident" had occurred.

United Flight 663,a Boeing 757 with 157 passengers and six crew members aboard, was diverted to a far corner of the airport after completing its flight from Washington Reagan Airportat about about 7 p.m. (0200 GMT).No one aboard was hurt during the incident, officials said. The jet has remained in a secure area.

The man was identified as Mohammed al Modadi, a diplomat in the Qatar embassy who has been in the United States for years. Officials do not believe the Qatari was trying to cause any harm. No explosives were found on him, according to latest reports.

Military jets scrambled but proved unnecessary, local media reported,quoting airport officials.

Passengers were removed by bus and were being questioned by the FBI.

Messages left with the airport were not returned.

The latest incident comes a week after the U.S.government announced new security measures to replace the mandatory screening of air travelers from 14 countries which the U.S.alleged were linked with terrorist activities.

Qatar is not on the list of 14 countries.



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