World | Europe

March 30, 2016

Grinning British Man With EgyptAir Hijacker Wanted the 'Selfie of a Lifetime'

The grinning man in that photo with the hijacker of an EgyptAir flight yesterday basically just did it for the "selfie of a lifetime."

He's 26-year-old Ben Innes, who is from Leeds and lives in Aberdeen. He told The Sun: “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."

On Tuesday morning, Innes was one of the 55 passengers on an EgyptAir flight MS181 from Alexandria to Cairo that was hijacked and forced to land in Larnaca airport, in Cyprus.

The hijacker, named in media reports as Seif Eldin Mustafa, released most of the passengers, but Innes — along with two passengers and four crew members — was kept on board.

It was a tense, hours-long event as authorities negotiated with the hijacker.

But seems like Innes, a systems auditor for oil company TWMA, found a way to keep his spirits up.

“I could see he was wearing what looked like a bomb and I was obviously very scared. But he didn’t seem particularly anxious," Innes said.

“About half an hour after we got to Larnaca I asked to have my picture taken with him.

“We were sitting around and I thought, ‘Why not? If he blows us all up it won’t matter anyway.’

“It would be the best selfie you could ever send to your mates — better than anything you’d ever get on a night out or on holiday."

So he asked a cabin crew member to translate for him, and the hijacker just shrugged OK. Innes grinned, and a flight attendant took the photo.

Innes also thought he could get a good look and see if the hijacker actually had a bomb.

He determined it was likely fake, and went back to his seat to try and think about what to do next.

Italian passenger Andrea Banchett told The Sun: “I could not believe it when he got up for that picture. He was smiling while standing next to the hijacker. As he walked back I said to him, ‘Are you fucking mad?’"

Innes obviously decided the best course of action at that point was to start texting. His mum, Pauline, back in Leeds, told him not to draw attention to himself.

“I didn’t know how to tell her that I had already done a selfie with the hijacker,” Innes said.

Pauline, after he was back safe, explained her views on terminology to The Telegraph.

"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."

Fair enough.

Whether or not it's technically a selfie, Innes' friends agree that the bold move is totally in character for him.

"I have no idea why he took the selfie but I imagine he probably volunteered to take it as he's not afraid to shy away from anything,' Innes' flatmate Chris Tundogan told The Daily Mail.

"I find it pretty mental but that's just Ben I guess!"

In WhatsApp messages to his friends published by the Mail, Innes says: "You know your boy doesn't fuck about!! Turn on the news lad!!!"

The drama ended yesterday with the release of all the passengers and crew and the hijacker being arrested.

Text by Mashable
 

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