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Qatari diplomat was stupid and arrogant to light up mid-flight

Maybe he was arrogant. Perhaps he was just stupid. But air marshals were right Wednesday to take a Qatari man into custody while traveling on a United Airlines flight from Reagan National to Denver.

Details about the incident are still streaming in, but the passenger, diplomat Mohammed al-Madadi, had apparently been smoking in the bathroom of the airliner -- an act that, as frequent travelers (and smokers) well know and flight attendants and lavatory signs clearly announce, is prohibited by federal law. No explosives were found on Madadi, who invoked diplomatic immunity. But air marshals had no way of knowing whether Madadi was simply soothing a nicotine craving or trying to set off explosives a la “shoe bomber” Richard Reid or “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Some reports say Madadi may have mouthed off to marshals by joking that he was trying to “light a bomb in my shoe.” If true, check the box for stupid AND arrogant.

Weren’t we at one point prohibited from bringing lighters or matches on board aircraft? Maybe we need a return to this policy to avert future incidences like this -- or at least keep inconsiderate people who can’t seem to control their urges from scaring the hell out of everyone else.

By Eva Rodriguez  | April 8, 2010; 12:37 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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I'm fine with his diplomatic immunity, though I can't imagine he will remain a diplomat for long. But can we charge his government for the expenses incurred by the airline, the airport, and government? Pretty please?

Posted by: kejia32 | April 8, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I concur with Kejia32. His government should pay for the expenses incurred, not we taxpayers. There are also signs at airports advising passengers to not make jokes about terrorism. Must be nice getting away with radically inconveniencing all his fellow passengers and a felony. We taxpaying citizens would get strung up if we pulled even one of his incredibly stupid antics. He won't lose his job, he'll just be transferred...

Posted by: elleyeyegreen | April 8, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we can't prosecute him for breaking a federal law but we can and should expel him.

Posted by: chalkranger | April 8, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

You are too kind. The man is insane and does not respect the fact that Americans are shedding their blood for the Middle East.

Maybe I'll fly around in their country in a bikini eating a big pork chop. Then I'll ask for diplomatic immunity, too.

Posted by: efaden1 | April 8, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

With all the eminently discussable angles to this incident (Qatar's gift to the blogosphere!), Ms. Rodriguez chooses to focus on the burning question of...whether air marshals should have arrested the man? With a postscript to the effect that lighting up in airplane lavatories is bad because it scares people??

I guess it's true, then. Too many options really do induce paralysis in some people.

Posted by: Itzajob | April 8, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

with friends like this who needs enemies ?

Posted by: lsf07 | April 8, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Why is this guy still in our country? Any diplomat who can't obey our laws should be declared persona non grata and put on the next flight to his county.

Posted by: publius1 | April 8, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Mohammad Yacuub al-Modadi is supported by Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans. All Arabs and Muslims are terrorists. America free of Arabs and Muslims would be America free of terror. Ethnic cleansing is good!

Posted by: pat1425 | April 8, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

This is a diplomatic problem with a simple diplomatic solution. Mohammed Al Madadi is entitled to exit the United States, and it should be allowed. Shut down the Embassy in Qatar, and inform the government there that it will be reopened if there is appropriate, verifiable justice. If there is appropriate justice, reopen the Embassy. If there is no appropriate justice, deport everyone in the United States with visa or passport from Qatar. Then inform all of Saudi Arabia, and every other friend that the United States in the region, that we will not interfere if Qatar is invaded and some other entity takes over the Qatar oil industry.

Posted by: lynnlm | April 8, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Well...I assume the Qatar folks will send this guy home. We in the USA have worse problems than some loose nut from Qatar. He is probably the 83rd kid of the 40th marriage some shreek of the Desert.

Posted by: macira | April 8, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

@pat1425: All Arabs and Muslims are terrorists. America free of Arabs and Muslims would be America free of terror. Ethnic cleansing is good!

All I can say is 'WOW!'
That is just so wrong on so many levels...

Posted by: SignPost | April 9, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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