NEWS

EgyptAir Plane Hijacked 'Because Of A Woman', President Says, As Seif El Din Mustafa Named As Suspect

'He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot.'

29/03/2016 11:41 | Updated 29 March 2016

Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiades has been caught on camera laughing about today's EgyptAir hijacking, saying "always there is a woman involved".

His comments, which were made while the hijacker, named by Egyptian officials as Seif El Din Mustafa, still had hostages on board the flight, have sparked outrage on social media.

"In any case it is not something that has to do with terrorism," Anastasiades said before breaking out into a smile.

"You know what I mean," he chuckled, adding: "Always there is a woman involved."

Many people are angry at comments made by the Cypriot president about a woman "always" being "involved".

Cypriot officials have since confirmed that the hijacker of the EgyptAir flight has been arrested, ending a hostage situation in Cyprus's Larnaca International Airport.

Anastasiades told reporters that the hijacking was "all to do with a woman" after it was revealed the suspect took over the plane in order to see his estranged wife.

The Airbus A320, flight number MS181, was travelling from Alexandria to Cairo with 81 people on board when it was diverted to Larnaca Airport in Cyprus.

It is believed that the hijacker had a letter that he wanted to deliver to his ex-wife in Cyprus, although his exact motives for hijacking the flight remain unclear.

Egypt’s foreign ministry confirmed that he was not a terrorist, but an "idiot".

“He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is,” it said in a statement.

State media have released this photo said to show the EgyptAir hijacker.

Local media reported that the hijacker’s ex-wife was escorted to the airport to meet him. 

An image which purportedly showed the moment the letter was handed to a flight attendant is being shared on social media.

The hijacker commandeered the flight while it was on its way to Cairo.

The pilot reported that one of the passengers threatened that he had an explosives belt, forcing the pilot to land in the Larnaca Airport in Cyprus.

Reports indicated that he asked for a translator and demanded asylum in Cyprus.

The incident sparked concern over how easy it is to breach airport security.

Larnaca airport, located on the south coast of Cyprus, was closed and scheduled flights diverted elsewhere.

Women and children were allowed to leave the aircraft first, Cypriot officials said.

The hijacking is likely to resurface concerns over security at Egyptian airports.

Last year a Russian aircraft crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula minutes after it took off from Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

All 224 people on board were killed in the crash. Russia later said an explosive device brought down the aircraft and the extremist Islamic State group said it downed the plane.

  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, an Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir passenger plane the previous day and forced it to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife, is brought by policeman to the court in Larnaca on March 30, 2016. The six-hour airport standoff ended peacefully. The hijacker, described by officials as 'unstable', had claimed to be wearing a bomb belt but no explosives were discovered after he gave himself up at Larnaca airport and was arrested. / AFP / GEORGE MICHAEL (Photo credit should read GEORGE MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa (C) forced the plane to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, an Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir passenger plane the previous day and forced it to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife, flashes the 'V' for victory sign as he leaves the court in Larnaca in a police car on March 30, 2016. Mostafa was remanded into police custody for eight days during his first court appearance. Police told the court that 58-year-old Egyptian national faces possible charges of hijacking, kidnapping people with the aim of taking them to an unknown destination, reckless and threatening behaviour and offences that breach the anti-terror law. / AFP / GEORGE MICHAEL (Photo credit should read GEORGE MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    A man thought to be the hijacker leaves the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320 at Larnaca Airport.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    A man thought to be the hijacker leaves the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320 at Larnaca Airport.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A man leaves the hijacked aircraft of EgyptAir from the pilot's window after landing at Larnaca airport.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A man leaves the hijacked aircraft.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    The remaining passengers on the highjacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320, which was diverted to Cyprus, run on the tarmac after leaving the plane.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    The remaining passengers on the highjacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320, which was diverted to Cyprus, run on the tarmac after leaving the plane as the highjacker surrendered to security forces.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    The remaining passengers on the highjacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320, which was diverted to Cyprus, run on the tarmac.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    The remaining passengers on the highjacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320 run on the tarmac.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    An official boards a hijacked Egyptair A320 Airbus at Larnaca Airport in Larnaca, Cyprus.
  • FameFlynet.uk.com
    General View of EgyptAir flight from Alexandria's Burg Al-Arab airport to Cairo.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    A policeman stands guard at Larnaca Airport.
  • Petros Karadjias/AP
    Cyprus police officers escort EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa, third right, to a court for a remand hearing as authorities investigate him on charges including hijacking, illegal possession of explosives and abduction in the Cypriot coastal town of Larnaca Wednesday, March 30, 2016. 
  • STR via Getty Images
    An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac.
  • STR via Getty Images
    An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac.
  • BEHROUZ MEHRI via Getty Images
    Cypriot policemen stand guard in the vicinity of Larnaca airport where an EgyptAir Airbus A-320 (R) sits on the tarmac.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    A hijacked Egypt Air A320 airbus stands on the runway at Larnaca Airport.
  • Petros Karadjias/AP
    A passenger leaves a hijacked EgyptAir aircraft after landing at Larnaca Airport.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    Passengers and crew leave the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    Police stand guard at Larnaca Airport near a hijacked Egypt Air Airbus A320 , March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
  • STR via Getty Images
    An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac of Larnaca aiport after it was hijacked.
  • STR via Getty Images
    An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac of Larnaca aiport after it was hijacked.
  • FameFlynet.uk.com
    EgyptAir flight from Alexandria's Burg Al-Arab airport to Cairo was hijacked.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    An official telephones from the ramp of a hijacked Egyptair A320 Airbus.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A police officer patrols outside the airport.
  • Splash News
    An Egypt air plane hijacked in Larnaca Cyprus.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    Media gather at Larnaca Airport.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A bus carrying some passengers from a hijacked EgyptAir aircraft drives by the plane at Larnaca Airport.
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