Military jets were scrambled to escort a Boeing 757 to the ground after a Qatari diplomat was caught smoking a cigarette, reflecting how jittery America still is about suspicious activity on an airplane.
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A diplomat from Qatar has been taken into custody for causing a disturbance on a Denver-bound flight Wednesday evening. Authorities said the man apparently smoked a cigarette in the airplane's bathroom. When asked about the smell of smoke, he joked he'd been trying to light his shoes, a reference to the 2001 shoebomber Richard Reed, causing a bomb scare.
The strong reaction reflects a nation still jittery about any suspicious activity on an airplane – particularly after a Nigerian man attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane last Christmas. That incident prompted hand-wringing and a review of airport security procedures nationwide.