A man leaves the hijacked aircraft of EgyptAir from the pilot’s window after landing at Larnaca airport in Cyprus. Photo / AP
Seif Eldin Mustafa
: 59-year-old businessman from Cairo, Egypt
’s Interior Ministry said he has a long criminal record, with charges including forgery, theft and drug possession. He had also served time in prison, it said.
What did he do: Hijacked EgyptAir MS181 on a domestic flight, claimed to be wearing an explosives belt, threatened to blow himself up and demanded he was reunited with his estranged Cypriot wife. The plane was taken to Larnaca, Cyprus. She was brought to the airport, accompanied by a young child. The hijacker eventually emerged from the aircraft with his hands in the air and was led away by Cypriot police. He was described by Cypriot officials as “psychologically unstable”. Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said Mustafa made a series of “incoherent” demands.
What other demands did he make: He asked for a letter to be passed to his ex-wife. There were reports he wanted to fly to Turkey but was told there wasn’t enough fuel. Mustafa reportedly sought the release of several female prisoners in Egypt and asked for political asylum in Cyprus.
On board: 56 passengers from Alexandria to Cairo, with six crew and a security official. The hijacker initially allowed women and children to leave the plane and then released Egyptian citizens. He kept four foreign citizens and three crew on the plane for five hours. A British passenger, Ben Innes, took a picture with Mustafa. Later passengers were seen running from the plane. One escaped by climbing out of the cockpit and falling onto the runway.
What does it say about security: The incident raised more questions about security at Egyptian airports, five months after the Russian aircraft crashed minutes after it took off from Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The Egyptian Government has confirmed his suicide belt was fake. The Interior Ministry said his handbag contained items which he later used to “give the impression that he is wearing an explosive belt”. Egypt’s Tourism Ministry insisted all airport security measures had been “fully implemented” before the flight took off. CCTV footage released by the Interior Ministry shows Mustafa being frisked at two security checks and passing a slim bag through x-ray machines. Egyptian security has arrested his sister and two of his relatives. The State Security Prosecution is trying to learn about his background.
What mistakes were made as the hijacking unfolded: A man wrongly identified in some Egyptian media reports as the hijacker, Dr Ibrahim Samaha, an Egyptian university professor, said he was just one of the passengers. General Hosni Hassan, the manager of manager of Burg al-Arab Airport at Alexandria, said the hijacker was a medical student at Atlanta University in the United States.
He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is.
The hijacking is not terrorism-related. It’s all to do with a woman. We are doing everything to release the hostages.
Has EgyptAir been hijacked before: In 1985 one of its planes was taken over by the Abu Nidal Organisation. Flight 648, a Boeing 737-200, was hijacked on its way to Cairo from Athens and diverted to Malta. In a raid by Egyptian troops, 60 people died, including two of the three Palestinian hijackers.