“He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot.”
Wearing a faux “suicide belt,” Egyptian national Seif Eldin Mustafa posed and grinned for a selfie as he hijacked an EgyptAir plane shortly after taking off from Alexandria.
Mustafa boarded EgyptAir MS181 Tuesday morning with 62 others, which included eight Americans, forcing captain Omar Jamal to re-route the aircraft to Cairo before landing in Cyprus after being alerted to a passenger wearing an explosive belt.
Once on the tarmac at Larnaca airport, Mustafa, who demanded to see his Cypriot ex-wife and get a letter to her, held several passengers and crew members hostage.
He later changed his demands, asking for asylum and to speak with someone from the European Union.
“Negotiations with the hijacker result in the release of all the passengers, except the crew and four foreigners,” EgyptAir posted on its Twitter page.
Shortly after, they provided another update.
“An EgyptAir official declared that 3 passengers, the pilot, co-pilot and 3 cabin crew members in addition to the hijacker are still onboard,” the airline posted.
After a five-hour standoff, the hostage situation came to an end when a pilot was able to jump out of a window after struggling with someone inside the cockpit. Other hostages managed to escape and were seen running from the aircraft right before the hijacker surrendered.
“Official sources of EGYPTAIR declared the release of all the hostages and the arrest of the hijacker,” the airline wrote.
Mustafa, who was described as “mentally unstable” by Secretary of the Cypriot Foreign Ministry Alexandros Zenon, simply walked out of the plane with his hands raised after throwing items later recovered by authorities on the ground.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades dismissed any notion of terrorism, saying Mustafa was motivated by personal reasons.
“He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot,” commented an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official. “Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is.”
Homer Mavrommatis from the Cypriot foreign ministry crisis center said while the plane is still being searched, Mustafa’s motivations are still not clear. “He kept on changing his mind and asking for different things.”
EgyptAir has a history of hijackings. Tuesday morning’s incident marks the eighth hijacking involving the airline, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s safety database.
(Photo: AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)