f16s NORAD confirmed that two F16s were scrambled Wednesday night to intercept a Denver-bound United flight due to a disturbance by a passenger. According to initial reports from ABC News, a Qatari diplomat with a terrorist-sounding name tried to light his shoes on fire, but turns out he was just using that as a cover to hide his real evil deeds: smoking in the bathroom, which is a federal crime! UPDATE: The Qatar Embassy in Washington, D.C. released an ALL CAPS statement on their website, acknowledging his identity and diplomatic status.

They say he’s totally harmless and it was just a “mistake”:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 7, 2010

FROM THE AMBASSADOR OF THE STATE OF QATAR TO THE UNITED STATES, H.E. ALI BIN FAHAD AL-HAJRI

PRESS REPORTS TODAY REGARDING AN INCIDENT ABOARD A COMMERCIAL FLIGHT FROM WASHINGTON, DC TO DENVER, CO INDICATE THAT A QATARI DIPLOMAT WAS DETAINED FOR SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR. WE RESPECT THE NECESSITY OF SPECIAL SECURITY PRECAUTIONS INVOLVING AIR TRAVEL, BUT THIS DIPLOMAT WAS TRAVELING TO DENVER ON OFFICIAL EMBASSY BUSINESS ON MY INSTRUCTIONS, AND HE WAS CERTAINLY NOT ENGAGED IN ANY THREATENING ACTIVITY. THE FACTS WILL REVEAL THAT THIS WAS A MISTAKE, AND WE URGE ALL CONCERNED PARTIES TO AVOID RECKLESS JUDGMENTS OR SPECULATION.

Photo: plane photo man