Larnaca: An EgyptAir plane was hijacked on Tuesday by an man who threatened to blow himself up before demanding he was reunited with his estranged Cypriot wife. Seif Eldin Mustafa was branded an “idiot” by the Egyptian foreign ministry after he seized control of the Alexandra-Cairo flight and had it diverted to Cyprus, where he issued a string of bizarre demands.
In addition to asking for a letter to be passed on to his ex-wife, Mustafa reportedly called for the release of several female prisoners in Egypt and asked for political asylum in Cyprus.
Initial reports had raised fears the passengers of flight MS181 were about to become the latest victim of a terrorist attack, but it later emerged the hijacking was carried out by an ‘unstable’ man said to have posed for ‘selfie’ photos with some of the people he had taken hostage.
More than 80 people were on the plane, Egypt’s civil aviation ministry said, three of them reportedly British citizens. The hijacker initially allowed women and children to leave the plane, releasing Egyptian citizens shortly after.
But for a tense five hours he kept four unidentified foreign citizens on the plane as he issued his demands. In a bizarre twist one of the passengers was seen apparently escaping by climbing out of the plane's cockpit and falling onto the runway.
Minutes later images were widely circulated on social media which appeared to show Mustafa — who was wearing what he claimed was a suicide vest - posing for a ‘selfie’ photo with an unnamed passenger.
The Egyptian government has since confirmed the suicide belt was fake. He was eventually captured and seen being led away from the airport by Cypriot police.
“He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot,” a spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying while police in Cyprus scrambled to free the passengers.
“Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is.” Mustafa Imam, 59, is married and lives in Helwan district South of Cairo, according to Egyptian media reports. He is an owner of Nutrient Supply Company.Egyptian security has arrested Mr Imam’s sister and two of his relatives. The State Security Prosecution is investigating with them to learn about his background....