World Europe 30 Mar 2016 Best selfie ever? Br ...

Best selfie ever? Briton’s photo with EgyptAir hijacker sets Twitter on fire

Published Mar 30, 2016, 12:05 pm IST
Updated Mar 30, 2016, 12:27 pm IST
Benjamin Innes sent the image to his flatmates, but could not bring himself to tell it to his mother.
The social media, as is usual, had some interesting take on the bizarre turn of events (Photo: Twitter)
 The social media, as is usual, had some interesting take on the bizarre turn of events (Photo: Twitter)

London: Fake bomb, ex wife, and a 26-year-old Briton’s ‘daring selfie’ with the hijacker himself- the EgyptAir hijacking incident could not have been anymore bizarre.

According to The Sun, Benjamin Innes, one of the four British passengers in the plane, said “I'm not sure why I did it, I just threw caution to the wind while trying to stay cheerful in the face of adversity. I figured if his bomb was real I'd nothing lose anyway, so took a chance to get a closer look at it. I got one of the cabin crew to translate for me and asked him if I could do a selfie with him. He just shrugged OK so I stood by him and smiled for the camera while a stewardess did the snap. It has to be the best selfie ever.”


Innes, a health and safety auditor, sent the image to his flatmates, with the comment “You know your boy doesn't f*** about. Turn on the news lad!!!”, to which his friend replied, “Wtf? Is that a bomb attached to the guys chest? You ok? Let us know when you get off.'”

However, Innes describes that he had a tough time dealing with his panicked mother, and couldn’t bring himself to tell her about the incident when she was profusely warning him not to attract attention.

“My mum was obviously frantic with worry and kept telling me not to do anything to draw attention to myself. I didn't know how to tell her I'd already done a selfie with the hijaker,” he reportedly said.

And social media, as is usual, had an interesting take on the bizarre turn of events.

The hijacker, described as "psychologically unstable" forced the EgyptAir plane to Cyprus and threatened to blow it up. His explosives turned out to be fake, and he surrendered with all passengers released unharmed after a bizarre six-hour standoff.

As more became known about the motive of the 59-year-old Egyptian who was taken into custody, authorities characterised the commandeering of the EgyptAir jetliner not as an act of terrorism but more like a "family feud" with his former wife.

EgyptAir Flight 181 took off from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria for a 30-minute hop to Cairo with at least 72 people aboard, Cyprus police said, including about two dozen foreigners.

At some point, the hijacker claimed to have explosives in his belt and forced the pilot to fly the Airbus 320 to Cyprus, Egyptian authorities said.

Egyptian passenger Farah el-Dabani told the Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah TV network that the hijacker was seated in the back of the aircraft and that it was the crew who told passengers that the plane was being hijacked.

"There was panic at the beginning, but the crew told us to be quiet. They did a good job to keep us all quiet so the hijacker does not do anything rash," she said in a telephone interview.

After the jet landed in Larnaca about 9 am, the hijacker asked to speak to his Cypriot ex-wife, who was brought to the airport, and he sent out a letter from the aircraft to give to her, said Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

The foreigners on board included eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians, a French national, an Italian, two Greeks and one Syrian, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry said. The nationalities of three other foreigners could not be determined immediately.

Most of the passengers were freed, and they calmly walked down a set of stairs from the plane, carrying their hand luggage and boarding a bus. But he kept on board seven people: four members of the flight crew and three passengers.

A Cypriot police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give out details of the investigation said the hijacker and his wife were divorced in 1994, and the couple had four children.

The hijacker eventually realised there was "no chance" any of his demands to be met, Kasoulides said, and he left the plane, where he was immediately arrested by anti-terrorism police. The belt of explosives turned out to be "telephone cases" made to look like they were explosives.

Just minutes before the arrest, several people were seen also getting off the aircraft, and a crew member — later identified as Ahmed el-Qaddah — climbed out of the cockpit window and slid down the side of the plane in accordance with his training for such emergencies.

Mustafa is to appear in court Wednesday, where authorities will ask that he be held on a number of unspecified charges, said police spokesman Andreas Angelides.