(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Ben Innes on taking a 'selfie' with the EgyptAir hijacker - Algeria latest news

A British man who posed smiling for a photo with a hijacker on board an EgyptAir flight has said he did it to take “a closer look” at the apparent explosives belt, adding: “I figured if his bomb was real I’d nothing to lose anyway.”

Ben Innes, 26, was one of three passengers and four crew held to the end of a hostage siege, after Seif Eldin Mustafa hijacked the EgyptAir flight bound for Cairo from Alexandria and forced it to be redirected to Cyprus.

The plane landed at Larnaca airport, where Innes was snapped standing next to Mustafa – who was still wearing what he claimed to be an explosives belt – in the cabin of the Airbus 320.

The bomb was later found to be fake.

Innes is a health and safety auditor from Leeds, living in Aberdeen. He was returning home on a business trip when flight MS181 was seized.

He spoke to the Sun about his motivations.

“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.

“I got one of the cabin crew to translate for me and asked him if I could do a selfie with him. He just shrugged OK, so I stood by him and smiled for the camera while a stewardess did the snap. It has to be the best selfie ever.”

Innes was among the last passengers to be released by Mustafa, after the hijacker freed most of those on board. “After about half an hour at Larnaca I asked for a photo with him as we were sitting around waiting. I thought, why not? If he blows us all up it won’t matter anyway.”

On closer inspection, Innes suspected that Mustafa’s explosives device was likely to be fake. “So I decided to go back to my seat and plot my next move.”

He and the remaining hostages were later released.

Innes’ stunt was decried by security experts, praised by relatives, and said to be “totally in character” by friends.

“Only Ben could get a selfie! #proud,” reportedly tweeted Sarah Innes, a relative. Her account was later deleted.

The image has been widely described as a “selfie”, but Innes’ mother Pauline Innes argued that it was clear her son did not take the image himself.

“All we can say is that the picture is clearly not a selfie as everyone has been describing it,” she said. “You can clearly see that it is not Ben who is taking the picture. He’s in it but he’s not taking it.”

Innes sent the photo to friends in the UK from the plane. In one screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation, published by the Daily Mail, Innes wrote: “You know your boy doesn’t fuck about!! Turn on the news lad!!!”

Innes’ flatmate Chris Tundogan told the Mail that Innes was “not afraid to shy away from anything … I find it pretty mental but that’s just Ben I guess!”

A friend of Innes from university told the Telegraph that he was a “wild man” and “very into his banter”, and that the stunt was “totally in character for him”.

Egyptian national Mustafa hijacked the plane, which had 62 people on board, shortly after it took off on what should have been a 28-minute flight from Alexandria to Cairo.

Claiming to be wearing a suicide belt, he forced the plane to re-route to Cyprus, where he proceeded to take several passengers and crew hostage and issued a forlorn demand to see his former wife, a Cypriot.

He finally surrendered himself to counter-terrorism police, reportedly emerging from the aircraft with his hands in the air.

As one Egyptian foreign ministry official said of Mustafa: “He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is.”

Tag(s) : #International

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