What Was The Motive For Today’s EgyptAir Hijacking?

I’m sure most of you have heard about the EgyptAir Airbus A320 hijacking this morning, which took place on a flight scheduled to operate from Alexandria to Cairo. When I first heard about this I assumed the worst, given what we’ve seen in the airline industry lately. Just last year an explosion went off on a Metrojet flight departing Egypt. So while I didn’t assume it would end that badly, I figured it was an organized event which some group would try to take credit for.

Well, as it turns out the hijacker was an idiot, and not a terrorist. At least that’s what the Egyptian foreign ministry is claiming.

The hijacker, who claimed to be wearing an explosive vest, requested that the plane be diverted to Larnaca, Cyprus.

EgyptAir

The flight was carrying 56 passengers and seven crew, and upon arriving in Larnaca many of the passengers were released. Here’s a video of that happening, where you’ll see that the passengers look quite calm:

The hijacker’s motives are still being investigated, though it seems like this may have to do with love. His ex-wife lives in Cyprus, so some officials speculate that’s why he wanted the plane diverted. Via The Irish Times:

Egypt’s civil aviation minister said the hijacker had not issued any “concrete” demands and that it was not clear whether the hijacker’s claims that he had a suicide vest were true.

There are also conflicting reports over his motive, with some saying the incident is related to his ex-wife and others reporting that he asked for the release of political prisoners in Egypt.

Cyprus’ foreign ministry on Tuesday identified the hijacker as Seif Eldin Mustafa in a tweet. It did not provide further details. The Egyptian foreign ministry reportedly said the hijacker “is not a terrorist, but an idiot”.

The man’s motivation is unclear, but Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said the hijacking was nothing to do with terrorism, while a Cyprus government official said the man “seems (to be) in love”.

Citing security sources, Cypriot state media said that the motives of the hijacker appeared personal and he had asked to contact his ex-wife, who lives in Cyprus. “It is not something which has to do with terrorism,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told reporters.

That sort of reminds me of the person who called in a bomb threat when they were worried they were going to miss their flight, thinking that would be the solution. In this case, I doubt hijacking an EgyptAir plane will be the best way to see your ex-wife anytime soon. 😉

Bottom line

I certainly hope the above is what happened. Not that there’s such a thing as a “good hijacking,” but given recent events, I can certainly think of more devastating motives (and outcomes).

All’s well that ends well, right?

Comments

  1. My concern is not the motives of the hijacker but how easily it was to hijack the plane. How does that happen so soon after all of the events in Europe?

  2. Only an idiot could do something like this – and one that lacks basic geography knowledge… I know that planes always pack extra fuel for any emergencies, but the guy wanted to use the plane to go to a city 4 times further away than original destination???
    Well, it is all well since it ended well (for most part), but the security at airports (especially in Egypt) is another matter…

  3. @Maxi – the “events in Europe” are completely irrelevant. Security measures have never been capable of screening out liars. The guy claimed he had a bomb. He didn’t, but the plane diverted anyway. Suppose the captain could have called his bluff, but that’s not the prudent call.

  4. I’m not an expert on security protocols, but is that how it works? You claim you have a bomb vest and the pilot goes where you want? I guess that’s the most prudent call but what is the point of locked cabin doors, etc.?

  5. @JP, Did the hijacker actually get into the cockpit? I don’t think so from the way the stories are told. I think the pilot made a prudent choice and did something feasible to defuse the situation without really knowing if he had a bomb or not. A US airline would probably do the same.

    Also, locked cockpit doors are designed to prevent hijackers from taking control and flying planes into buildings or other important things. If you said you had a bomb and threatened to detonate it if they didn’t open the cockpit door, I think the pilot would call your bluff and keep the door locked.

  6. I was on EgyptAir today and, being the AvGeek I am, requested a cockpit visit. Was denied way too quickly 😉

    EgyptAir policy is to show zero resistance to terrorists (to ensure that all pax are safe), so the captain immediately turned to Cyprus as agreed witb the hijacker. Very well handled, in my opinion, and MUCH better than resisting him and ending up with dead people. Zero fatalities and zero injuries today.

  7. “I guess that’s the most prudent call but what is the point of locked cabin doors, etc.?”

    And how would a locked cabin door stop a bomb (had there been one)?

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