Two fighter jets scrambled and SWAT team dispatched after man threatens to blow up plane in duty free row

When the plane landed back in Toronto, a SWAT team stormed the plane carrying guns and telling passengers to “keep their heads down” and “hands up”

Two US F16 fighter jets were scrambled and a SWAT team was dispatched after a man threatened to blow up a passenger plane following an argument about duty free.

The jets were given instructions to accompany the Sunwing Airlines flight 772 that was headed to Panama City from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, following reports that a passenger had made threats to bomb the plane.

After being in the air for just under an hour, cabin crew became worried about the behavior of one of the passengers when he displayed aggressive and threatening behaviour. They contacted aviation authorities on the ground and two fighter jets that had been completing exercises, were quickly dispatched to intercept the plane above Virginia and escort it back to Canada.

According to witnesses, the man who has been named as Ali Shahi, a 25-year-old from Canada, had become angry after a disagreement about the price of duty free on the plane.

Witness Bettina Bathe told CTV Toronto: “He basically just tore a strip off her, explaining how expensive the cigarettes are here in Canada, he hates Canada.”

 “Then he said, with great expression using his hands, 'I just want to bomb Canada.”

Phil Thompson, who was sitting three rows in front of Shahi, said that the passenger had become extremely angry and threatening after his altercation with the cabin crew member.

He told Global News: “He said he didn’t care what happened to the plane or the people on it and he didn’t like Canada and didn’t care about Canada. He didn’t care about the consequences of his actions; he literally didn’t care if the plane went down.”

When the plane eventually landed back in Toronto a SWAT team of six officers entered the plane to apprehend Shahi.

A team of six SWAT officers entered the plane carrying guns to arrest Shahi A team of six SWAT officers entered the plane carrying guns to arrest Shahi

Footage of the incident was captured by one of the plane’s passengers, showing the officers entering the plane holding guns and screaming at the passengers “keep their heads down” and “hands up”.

It is believed the man involved has a history of mental illness and has suffered in the past from depression, anorexia and bulimia

Speaking to American news channel CBS, Shai’s father, Sadegh Shahi, said: “I am sorry for what happened on the flight, but Ali is not at fault. I blame the police and health system.”

He was released on bail on Saturday and has subsequently been taken to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One Direction's Zayn Malik gazes at a bouquet of flowers in the 'Night Changes' music video
people
News
people
News
'Free the Nipple' film screening after party with We Are The XX, New York, America - 04 Feb 2014
news
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May