The hijacker of an EgyptAir flight is believed to have taken over the plane in order to see his ex-wife who lives in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus.
Seif El Din Mustafa has been identified as the hijacker of EgyptAir flight 181, which was supposed to travel from Cairo to Alexandria. He claimed during the flight he was armed with an explosive belt, however, he was later found to be unarmed after being arrested. All passengers and crew are currently safe with no apparent injuries or casualties.
He was described as acting “unstable” during the flight, but it is believed terrorism was not his motive, instead, he did it for love.
“He kept on changing his mind and asking for different things,” said Homer Mavrommatis of the Cypriot foreign ministry to CNN.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 29, 2016
Ian Lee from CNN, who spoke with one of the hostages, said Mustafa did not make any grand speeches, instead choosing to direct the crew from behind a curtain in the back of the aircraft.
After forcing the aircraft to land in Cyprus, Mustafa demanded to see his ex-wife, who arrived at the airport to receive what appeared to be a love letter. It has also been reported he demanded the release of some Egyptian female prisoners and to speak with European Union leaders.
Mustafa released a majority of the 55 passengers once the plane had landed, holding some of the crew longer. It has been reported he did not breach the cockpit during the event. Several passengers on board were from Western countries, including eight Americans. The entire event lasted approximately six hours with no casualties.
The hijacking raises concerns over Egypt’s airline security. While Tuesday’s event ended relatively peacefully, the bombing of a Metrojet flight in October, 2015, killed 224.
“Ever since the Metrojet plane was blown up, it has been confirmed that there are lapses in Egyptian security,” said Sajjan Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation London to CNN.
A significant amount of the passengers on the Metrojet flight were tourists, which has Egyptian authorities worried the events could have a negative impact on Egypt’s tourism economy. They have insisted their airports are safe and have encouraged tourists to return to the country.
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