United Airlines Flight 663 Passenger Subdued By Federal Air Marshal <


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United Airlines Flight 663 Passenger Subdued By Federal Air Marshal

By Bill Goldston

April 8, 2010 - A passenger onboard United Airlines, Flight 663 was subdued tonight by a federal air marshal during a flight out of Washington at about 6:30 PM. The passenger has been identified as Mohammed al Modadi, a Qatari diplomat.

It appears that Mohammed al Modadi had entered the restroom. Sometime later a flight attendant smelled smoked and notified an air marshal.

When the marshal approached the bathroom the air marshal asked Modadi what he was doing and it appears that Modadi had told the marshal that he was trying to put a cigarette out on his shoe.

The pilot notified Air Traffic Control (ATC) of the event at which time ATC notified North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled out of Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. The F-16’s jets intercepted Flight 663 at approximately 6:45 p.m. MDT. Upon intercepting United Flight 663, the F-16s escorted the aircraft until it landed safely without incident at approximately 6:50 p.m. MDT where the plane was met by local law enforcement.

The FBI has reported Modadi had full diplomat immunity as the 3rd secretary and vice-consul. United Airlines Flight 663, a Boeing 757 with 157 passengers and six crew members aboard, landed safely at Denver International Airport. Initial reports had reported that Modadi was trying to set off a shoe bomb. It appears this was not the case.

Statement by Secretary Napolitano on Actions by Federal Air Marshals on Board United Flight 663 

“I commend the Federal Air Marshals on board United Airlines flight 663 last night, who swiftly responded to a potential threat to passenger safety while the plane was in flight. These highly trained individuals took appropriate and immediate action to secure the aircraft and communicate the potential threat to authorities on the ground—ensuring that the flight was met by TSA and law enforcement officials when it landed safely in Denver.  

“I spoke to the Air Marshals this morning, and I expressed my appreciation for their vital service keeping passengers around the world safe from potential threats of terrorism—work that nearly always goes unnoticed. We always treat security-related incidents seriously until verified otherwise, and thankfully this incident posed no actual security threat.” 

Since the attempted terrorist attack on Dec. 25, 2009, the Transportation Security Administration has increased deployments of Federal Air Marshals on domestic and international flights, along with many other enhancements to aviation security personnel and technology. The President’s fiscal year 2011 budget request includes $85 million for increased Federal Air Marshals flight coverage.

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