Saturday, April 10, 2010

A cautionary tale for smokers

Occam's Razor states that the simplest answer is usually true. But sometimes a simple explanation isn't as satisfying. At 9:50 p.m. Wednesday, this alert arrived in my email.

Los Angeles Times | April 7, 2010 | 7:52 a.m.
FBI: Man tried to set off shoe bomb on United flight
Federal air marshals subdued a man who reportedly tried to light his shoes on fire aboard a United flight from Washington to Denver Wednesday night.
The man has been identified as Mohammed al Modadi, a diplomat in the Qatar embassy in Washington, according to the FBI. The FBI said he was the 3rd secretary and vice-consul, and that he had full diplomatic immunity.
Air marshals who were on the flight restrained al Modadi, according to the FBI.
Two jet fighters were scrambled from Buckley Air Force Base to accompany United flight 663 as it flew into Denver, where it landed safely.
Authorities say they believe the man was trying to set off a "shoe bomb," though they haven't confirmed the presence of explosive materials.
More soon at:,0,7328739.story

More than two hours later, I received this.

Los Angeles Times | April 7, 2010 | 10 p.m.
Diplomat on plane was just trying to smoke
A Qatari diplomat trying to sneak a smoke in an airplane bathroom sparked a bomb scare Wednesday night on a flight from Washington to Denver, with fighter jets scrambled and law enforcement put on high alert, officials said.
No explosives were found on the man, and officials do not believe he was trying to harm anyone, according to a senior law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The incident sparked increased security at LAX.
More at:
So what do we take from this lesson? It could be "look before your leap." It could be "assume the best in others." I prefer to think of this as a lesson about how people are getting much to quick to call smokers terrorists. But be careful when you light up that there's not an angry mob ready to tackle you for smoking before telling the authorities they thought you were a terrorist.

1 comment:

  1. He probably thought that being a terrorist was more acceptable than being a smoker--at least in the land of the free. As I understand it, he stated that he was trying to light his shoe, though he was only catching a smoke.