FBI Investigating Possible ‘Shoe Bomb’ Attempt


united-flight-663Updated: The FBI is probing whether a man tried to ignite his shoes on a DC to Denver flight tonight, according to law enforcement officials, who say the man is a Qatari diplomat.

An official said an air marshal on the flight apparently restrained them. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

The officials said fighter jets were scrambled but proved unnecessary, as the plane landed safely in Denver with no injuries to passengers.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Kristin Lee said the man is being interviewed by law enforcement officials in Denver.

Two officials say the man is a Qatari diplomat who has been in the United States for years.

Unlike the December 25 bomb attempt on an Detroit-bound airliner, officials say it is not immediately clear what the man was trying to do — something harmful like start a fire or explosion, or something as innocent as smoke a cigarette.

Officials insisted tonight that it was still too early to tell whether the incident was an attempted act of terrorism or a giant misunderstanding.

A media hot line at Denver International Airport says the United Flight 663 from Washington to Denver was met by FBI and TSA officials around 7 p.m. MDT.

Update: 10:44 p.m. EST: ABC News, CNN and others are reporting that authorities have identified the man being interviewed as Mohammed al Modadi, a diplomat in the Qatar embassy.

United Flight 663, a Boeing 757 with 157 passengers and six crew members aboard, landed safely at DIA, and while fighter jets were scrambled, they were unnecessary.

According to NBC News, one-half hour before landing, an air marshal smelled smoke and confronted a man emerging from a bathroom who claimed he was trying to set his shoes on fire. It was uncertain if anything actually was on fire or if this was a joke, NBC reported. Investigators were looking to see what might be in the man’s shoes.

 {Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter/Denver Post/NBC News/CBS/AP}