This story just hit the local news here in Denver. Details are very very sketchy at the moment but there was a disturbance on a United flight from D.C. to Denver. Information is still hard to come by at the moment but it would appear to be non-terrorist related.
The man at the center of the story is Mohammed al-Modadi who is the 3rd secretary and vice-counsul at the Qatar embassy in Washington. The best explanation of what happened that I’ve found is at Hot Air:
On MSNBC, Pete Williams says they haven’t found any explosives in his shoes yet and thinks it might be a huge misunderstanding. Supposedly al-Modadi got up to use the bathroom around 30 minutes before the flight landed; he was in there for awhile and when he came out an air marshal smelled smoke. When the marshal asked him what he was doing in the bathroom, al-Modadi supposedly said, “I was trying to light my shoes on fire.” In fact, he might have simply been having a cigarette and responding sarcastically, which I guess the marshal didn’t pick up on. Again, this is all from Williams.
If this recounting of the story it true then al-Modadi is not a terrorist. He is however an idiot. Who would try to smoke on board an airplane and then when caught in the act make a joke about terrorism and shoe bombings?
Update: Mohammed Yacoub Y.M. Al Madadi is the one on the right in this picture, which matches the State Dept listing. Interestingly though he’s listed as “Third Secretary,” his Linked In profile lists him as a recent GWU graduate who is a database adminstrator for the consulate.