Hijacker now identified as Saif al-Din Mustafa (not a professor of veterinary medicine?) and he is now asking for the release of all female prisoners in Egypt
Something is very wrong about the hijacking of EgyptAir 181 (MS181). It makes no sense. A Veterinarian and Professor from Egypt (reportedly with dual Egyptian-American citizenship) is hijacking a plane to request asylum in Cyprus and get a letter to his ex-wife? Keeping four (or five) foreigners as hostages but letting all other passengers go? Something is VERY odd about this story and it just does not add up... apparently this all may be a guy who is hijacking a plane because he likes a girl. If John Hinkley could shoot Ronald Reagan because he had a crush on Jodi Foster, hijacking a plane for "love" is possible.
An EgyptAir A-320 aircraft (MS181) with about 81 (reports have also said 85) passengers was hijacked this morning. The flight was originally supposed to go from Alexandria to Cairo, Egypt. The plane landed at Larnica, Cyprus.
Supposedly the hijacker is wearing a "bomb belt/Suicide belt."
Cyprus state radio is reporting that the hijacker has asked a letter he has written be carried/delivered to his ex-wife may live in Cyprus But, the original demand was to go to Istanbul so his ex-wife may live there- another very confusing part of this hijacking.
The crew of seven and supposedly four or five passengers are still onboard (at the time I am writing this).
Why just keep four (or five) passengers an release the rest? The passengers still onboard are being referred to a foreigners (presumably that would mean not Cypriot or Egyptian?). There were Americans onboard but it is not indicated what nationality the remaining hostages are.
There has been no demand for money, just that this "letter" he wrote be delivered to his ex-wife who apparently lives on Cyprus. To my way of thinking, there are a huge number of ways to get a letter to ones ex that are more simple than hijacking an aircraft.
The hijacker is identified as one "Doctor" Ibrahim Samaha and several news outlets and the President of Cyprus are at stressing this is "not terrorism"! Well, what else do you call forcibly taking an aircraft and holding it and passengers with a "bomb belt"- it is at minimum "air piracy." There are also better ways to ask for asylum than threatening lives.
It is being reportes that he originally wanted to go to Istanbul- but was told the plane did not have the fuel.
There is also a question of how the hijacker managed to get a bomb belt onto a plane in Egypt. After the terrorist attack taking down the aircraft at Sharm El-Sheikh this past winter, Egypt increased their security at airports - they rely on tourism.
What we are left with is this "Doctor" (reportedly a Professor of Veterinary Medicine) hijacking an A-320. The first hijacking in many years. Taking the plane to Cyprus and demanding a letter be taken to his ex-wife.
Why not just buy a ticket for a flight to Cyprus or Istanbul and ask for asylum on landing? Why wear a suicide belt? Why keep only four-five passengers and release the rest? Why become a hijacker at all? Most countries do not look favorably on Air Piracy under any circumstances Does he really think he would get a "warm welcome" after putting lives at risk and basically "stealing" an A-320?
At this point a LOT of this story makes no sense at all.
UPDATE AT 0927 ZULU (0228 MST)- according to the Egyptian Aviation Authorities there are 4 crew and 3 "foreign" passengers being held by the hijacker.
UPDATE AT 0955 ZULU (0255 MT)-
According to a press conference with Egyptian Civil Aviation an "Air Marshal was on board? Why didn't he intervene? Isn't that what they are there for?
Also - Mrs brahim Samaha, the alleged ex-wife of the alleged hijackers says the guy on the picture is NOT her ex. She has no idea who the guy in the picture is- so the identity of the hijacker is unconfirmed.
UPDATE AT 1011 ZULU (0311 MST) - Reportedly a statement from a senior official of EgyptAir - "This guy is not a terrorist - He's an idiot!"
UPDATE AT 1035 ZULU (0335 MST) - Hijacker now identified as Saif al-Din Mustafa and he is now asking for the release of all female prisoners in Egypt - not sure how real that demand is or if he is just making it up as he is going
H/T to @bodhibrian for the live update feed: