EgyptianAir Flight 181 was following route from Alexandria to Cairo this morning when it was hijacked by a man said to be wearing a suicide belt.
The aircraft landed instead at Lacarta airport in Cyprus, carrying 56 passengers and seven crew members in addition to one EgyptAir security member, who were all held hostage for hours prior to the suspect’s arrest.
Cyprus officials have officially identified the hijacker as Seif Eldin Mustafa, whose motives were initially unclear.
While initial reports claimed that he was seeking political asylum, later reports claimed the hijacking may have been more personal and related to an ex-wife on the island.
Cypriot President Nicos Anstasiades said the hijacking was not a terrorism-related incident. However, more recent reports say that Mustafa demanded the release of prisoners, suggesting that the attack, in fact, had a political motive.
Those caught in the hostage situation have officially been evacuated, including Dr. Ibrahim Samaha, a professor at Alexandria University, who was initially accused of being the hijacker and Omar Jamal, the pilot who had been threatened.
Mustafa is now in custody. Egypt’s civil aviation minister confirmed that the hijacker was wearing a suicide belt, but there is speculation that the bomb may have been a fake. The minister said that he could not yet confirm the hijacker’s identity and Cairo airport has delayed a flight scheduled for departure to New York.