By Sara Malm and Emma Glanfield for MailOnline –A British man who posed for a photo with the EgyptAir hijacker has hailed it as ‘the best selfie ever’ – but revealed he couldn’t bring himself to tell his panicked mother what he’d done.
Health and safety auditor Ben Innes, 26, texted her minutes after daringly taking a picture with Seif Eldin Mustafa, the Egyptian who hijacked a plane and forced it to be redirected from Cairo.
Oblivious to what her son had just done, Mr Innes’ worried mother Pauline then told him ‘not to do anything to draw attention to himself’ as the drama played out on television across the world.
He told The Sun: ‘My mum was obviously frantic with worry and kept telling me not to do anything to draw attention to myself. I didn’t know how to tell her I’d already done a selfie with the hijaker.’
The diverted flight had landed at Cyprus’ Larnaca airport, with 62 passengers on board, and Mr Innes was one of four ‘foreigners’ and crew held hostage by Mustafa during a six-hour standoff.
But instead of panicking about his plight, Mr Innes, who is from Leeds but living in Aberdeen, appeared rather calm about the situation and took a selfie before sending it to his friends in the UK.
He said: ‘I’m not sure why I did it, I just threw caution to the wind while trying to stay cheerful in the face of adversity.
‘I figured if his bomb was real I’d nothing to lose anyway, so took a chance to get a closer look at it.’
The hijaker ‘shrugged OK’ when one of the cabin crew translated Mr Innes’ request, before the health and safety auditor took what he labelled ‘the best selfie ever’.
He then sent messages to his friends, telling one: ‘You know your boy doesn’t f*** about. Turn on the news lad!!!’.
It was accompanied by a selfie of him with Mustafa, who was wearing a ‘fake’ suicide belt.
The friend, seemingly worried, replied: ‘Wtf? Is that a bomb attached to the guys chest? You ok? Let us know when you get off.’
Mr Innes is believed to have approached hijacker Mustafa while being held hostage on the tarmac, and sent the ‘selfie of a lifetime’ to one of his flatmates as well as other friends.
‘I have no idea why he took the selfie but I imagine he probably volunteered to take it as he’s no afraid to shy away from anything,’ Mr Innes’ flatmate Chris Tundogan told MailOnline.
‘I find it pretty mental but that’s just Ben I guess!’
Egyptian national Mustafa hijacked the domestic EgyptAir MS181, carrying 62 people, including eight Brits and ten Americans, shortly after it left Alexandria for Cairo early this morning.
Wearing a suicide belt – later found to have been fake – Mustafa forced the plane to re-route to Cyprus, where he proceeded to take several passengers and crew hostage and demanded to see his Cypriot ex-wife.
During the hostage situation on the tarmac, Mustafa made a series of erratic requests, including asking to meet with representatives of the European Union, and to be taken to other airports.
A picture from the tarmac showed the moment he handed over a four-page letter intended for his ex-wife, as a female airport official stands with her head in her hands.
Negotiations with the hijacker during the morning resulted in the release of a majority of the hostages, except for the crew and four foreigners, including Mr Innes.
After a six-hour standoff, the crew along with Mr Innes and two other male foreign nationals were released moments before the hijacker gave himself up.
They were seen running across the tarmac in the moments before Mustafa surrendered to police.
Mustafa disembarked the plane at around 14.40 local time with his hands up and threw some items on the ground, which were picked up by police and are being examined.
Alexandros Zenon, Secretary of the Cypriot Foreign Ministry, did not immediately have more details on the arrest, but added that the hijacker appeared to be ‘mentally unstable’.
In the wake of his arrest, Cypriot authorities were able to determine that Mustafa’s suicide belt had been a fake.
‘According to security sources received from Cyprus Authorities at Larnaca International Airport, which stated that the explosive belt that the hijacker allegedly said that he was wearing, is fake,’ EgyptAir said in a statement.
His arrest followed a comment by an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official, who said: ‘He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is.’