New details have emerged in the hijacking of an EgyptAir Flight MS181 on March 29. The accused hijacker, Seif Eddin Mustafa, did not enter the cockpit of the airplane over the course of the six-hour ordeal, according to the plane's pilot.
Speaking to members of the press Sunday, EgyptAir pilot Amr Al-Gamal provided more details about the incident. Gamal had been flying a commercial flight from Alexandria to Cairo when the hijacker took control of the plane and forced him to reroute the flight to Cyprus, where Mustafa was taken into custody after a long standoff.
"Immediately after the hijacking, I asked the security officer to stay at the door of the cockpit and not leave," said Gamal in a meeting organized by Egyptian authorities, according to Yahoo News.
Mustafa seized control of the plane after revealing a fake suicide belt strapped to his body. He released most of the plane's 55 passengers soon after the plane landed in Larnaca, Cyprus. Hours later he surrendered to police.
"Our main fear was that the hijacker may enter the cockpit, or that he knew how to fly a plane or use it to explode," said co-pilot Hamad al-Qaddah.
The hijacking was initially suspected to be terrorism-related. It occurred just months after a bomb brought down a Russian airliner departing from Red Sea resorts, dealing a blow to the reputation of the country’s tourism and security sectors. However, Mustafa later claimed his motivation was to reunite with his ex-wife and children.
Mustafa's ex-wife, Marina Paraschou, was candid about her relationship with the alleged hijacker in an interview published in Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros, calling him an "extremely dangerous man." She said her former husband used drugs, beat her and terrorized the family, rejecting the idea raised by many media reports that said Mustafa hijacked Flight MS181 as an act of love. Paraschou was married to Mustafa for five years until 1990, and had four children with him.