Qatari diplomat held in US flight scare

WASHINGTON - A Qatari diplomat aboard a flight from Washington to Denver was subdued after causing a disturbance, leading the military to scramble two fighter jets and escort the jetliner to its destination where a phalanx of law enforcement officials took him into custody, federal authorities said. ABC News reported the passenger was subdued by federal air marshals. The New York Times, citing a federal official, said the man-identified as Mohammed al-Modadi, a diplomat in the Qatari embassy in Washington-was taken into custody after going to the lavatory to smoke a cigarette. The federal official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Times the man was confronted on the plane by air marshals and-apparently under the impression he had diplomatic immunity-responded with sarcastic remarks that the marshals understood to be a threat. The suspect is the third secretary and vice consul at the Qatari embassy, the FBI said. A passenger said passengers were held on the aircraft for about an hour as it sat on the tarmac at Denver International Airport. The passengers disembarked the aircraft and were being interviewed by authorities. The situation is under control. The flight is on the ground, a federal law enforcement official told CNN. In response to the incident, USaviation officials ordered aircraft around the United States alerted, the Times said. United Airlines said Flight 663, a Boeing 757, had 157 passengers and six crew members on board. Following an incident involving a passenger, the crew of United flight 663 asked that the plane be met by law enforcement officials after landing safely at DIA at 7 p.m. local time, the statement said. USmilitary officials said jets from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, escorted the United jet to Denver.

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