'Shoe Bomber' May Have Just Wanted a Smoke

Qatari diplomat detained, but may be 'misunderstanding'
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2010 9:27 PM CDT
Updated Apr 8, 2010 5:30 AM CDT
A United Airlines jet is seen in this file photo.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Federal authorities found no explosives in the shoes of a diplomat from the Persian Gulf state of Qatar who was subdued by federal air marshals on a Washington-Denver flight tonight after he allegedly told them, “I’m lighting my shoes on fire.” A source tells the AP that Mohammed al Modadi had used the restroom to light a cigarette; another tells ABC News, “it may have been a massive misunderstanding,” and that Modadi’s comments might have been “sarcastic.”

Modadi is the third secretary and vice-consul at Qatar’s Washington embassy, and as such has full diplomatic immunity, an FBI official notes. He is in custody in Denver, where the United Airlines flight landed safely after being trailed by fighter jets for the final 40 miles of its journey.

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