All Passengers Safe on Hijacked EgyptAir Flight, Suspect in Custody

A crisis was averted on Tuesday when a hijacker on an EgyptAir flight en route to Cairo from Alexandria surrendered, according to The New York Times. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Larnaca, Cyprus, and luckily everyone on the flight escaped unharmed after a few hours of tense negotiations. The hijacker, who said he was wearing an explosive vest, was arrested. The Guardian reports that the alleged suicide belt was fake.

 

The suspect has been identified as Seif Eldin Mustafa, an Egyptian citizen who had lived in Cyprus. He made several demands in a letter written in Arabic, including the release of female prisoners in Egypt and a meeting with his ex-wife, who lives in Cyprus. The ex-wife reportedly helped in the negotiations, which led to his eventual surrender.

A passanger on the plane, Ibrahim Samaha, who had been mistakenly identified as the suspect by Egyptian authorities, described the feeling on the plane.

“We had no idea what was going on,” Mr. Samaha told the BBC. “At first the crew told us there was a problem with the plane and only later did we know it was hijacked.”

The passengers on the plane were mostly Egyptian, but some were citizens from the United States, Belgium, Greece, and Italy.

After a few hours of negotiations, the majority of those on board were seen calmly exiting the aircraft, some carrying baggage, the Times reports. Seven hostages remained, but eventually were led to safety, with one escaping out the cockpit window.

The hijacking is not believed to be an act of terrorism, but the act of a disgruntled ex-husband. In the words of Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiades, “It’s all to do with a woman.”

Still, this hijacking is putting Egypt under fire for questionable air security standards, especially in light of the recent tragedy with the Russian airliner that took off from Egypt and was reportedly shot down by the Islamic State, killing all 224 passengers on board.

The good news is that everyone on the hijacked flight escaped unharmed and the suspect is now Cypriot police custody.