An Egypt Air plane flying from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and forced to land in Cyprus today [Tuesday, March 29] after a man claimed to have on a suicide belt.
According to published reports, an Egyptian hijacker commandeered the plane and forced it to land in Cyprus in a bizarre bid to get a letter to his ex-wife.
The hijacker, whose identity has not yet been confirmed, surrendered after hours of negotiations in which he first asked for political asylum in Cyprus, then for someone to deliver a letter to his ex-wife who lives on the island, before lastly demanding the release of prisoners, particularly women, across Egypt.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fethy said authorities suspected the suicide belt was not genuine but treated the incident as serious to ensure the safety of all those on board.
“He’s not a terrorist; he’s an idiot,” officials at Egypt’s ministry of foreign affairs said. “Terrorists are crazy, but they aren’t stupid. This guy is.”
Eighty-one people, including 21 foreigners and 15 crew, had been onboard the Airbus 320 flight when it took off, the passengers and crew were freed unharmed and the hijacker was arrested after giving himself up.