Police Increase Security at LAX Following Incident on United Airlines Flight [Updated]
Airport Police beefed up security at LAX tonight after a Qatari diplomatic was apparently detained by a federal air marshall during a flight between Washington D.C. and Denver. Officials say it is too early to say what exactly happened, but the man was thought to be lighting something--whether if it was his shoe, a cigarette or something else is unknown.
"Los Angeles Airport Police has raised its security profile and visibility," said Los Angeles Airport Police Chief George R. Centeno. "Heightened uniformed traffic and terminal foot beats, as well as, perimeter patrols have been deployed. Los Angeles Airport Police also have additional security measures in place that are considered security sensitive."
United Flight 663 landed safely in Denver, escorted by F-16 fighters that were scrambled after authorities were alerted to the incident. 157 passengers and six crew members were aboard.
Update (via Gothamist): NBC News' Pete Williams says, based on information so far, it seems like the diplomat was smoking and made an inappropriate remark in response to the air marshal's inquiry. And investigators reportedly did not find explosives in the shoes.
A US security official tells ABC News "it may have been a massive misunderstanding" and the diplomat might have been "sarcastic" when he allegedly said, "I'm lighting my shoes on fire."
Update #2: The man apparently is Mohammed Yaaqob Y.M. Al-Madadi, who is the third secretary for the Qatari Embassy in Washington. He was "trying to sneak a smoke," reported the Associated Press.