Qatari diplomat 'not a bomber'

2010-04-08 15:00

Washington – A Qatari subdued in a bomb scare on a flight to Denver is a diplomat and was "not engaged in any threatening activity", Qatar's envoy to the US said in a statement on Thursday.

Ambassador Ali bin Fahad al-Hajri did not identify the diplomat involved in Wednesday's incident but said he was "travelling to Denver on official embassy business on my instructions".

"The facts will reveal that this was a mistake, and we urge all concerned parties to avoid reckless judgements or speculation," the statement said.

"We respect the necessity of special security precautions involving air travel, but this diplomat was travelling to Denver on official embassy business on my instructions, and he was certainly not engaged in any threatening activity."

US officials said air marshals subdued a man in a bomb scare triggered after he reportedly smoked a cigarette and then joked he was trying to ignite his shoes.

The plane landed safely at Denver International Airport following the disturbance, and US officials later said it appeared the passenger was not trying to blow up the plane, although the incident was under investigation.

But the scare prompted fighter jets to scramble and intercept the flight amid fears of a possible repeat of a passenger's foiled attempt to bring down a Northwest Airlines jet on Christmas Day as it approached to land at Detroit.

The man was identified in US media reports as Qatari diplomat Mohammed al-Modadi, 27, who as the third secretary and vice consul of the Qatari embassy in Washington enjoys full diplomatic immunity.

The FBI was investigating the incident, but a US official told AFP the incident was "not what it appeared to be" and there was no attempt to detonate a bomb.