The Egyptian man who was arrested on March 29 for donning a fake explosive belt and forcing a Cairo-bound flight to divert to Cyprus had a previous arrest for allegedly contemplating an airplane hijacking, his sister Fikreya told Egyptian newspaper Al-Watan.
The arrest happened in 1998, after Seif Eddin Mostafa told a fellow traveler in a Libyan airport that he was thinking about hijacking an airplane, his sister said. Mostafa was deported to Egypt and sentenced to one year in prison. An Egyptian sovereign body recommended that he be put on a no-fly list, his sister added.
Prior to 1998, Mostafa had previous brushes with the law, including a seven-year sentence for forgery, Fikreya said.
She explained that Mostafa obtained a false passport in 1972 and used it to travel to Libya and then to Cyprus, where he met his future wife Marina Paraschou, with whom he went on to have four children.
In a Thursday interview with Cypriot daily Phileleftheros, Paraschou alleged that Mostafa terrorized and physically abused his wife and children and was an unstable and “extremely dangerous” man.
Cypriot police told the Associated Press that Mostafa was deported from Cyprus in 1990 following domestic violence charges filed by Paraschou and banned from returning. Prior to his deportation, police say he had racked up six charges of forgery. Later in 1990, he re-entered Cyprus on a false Qatari passport, but was caught and deported again.
In 1992, he was arrested in Egypt for traveling on a false passport and sentenced to seven years in Tora prison for forgery, Fikreya said.
Shortly after his release, he obtained a new false passport to travel to Libya, where his first hijacking arrest took place, his sister said.
He was re-arrested several times for forgery, the Associated Press reported. During the 2011 revolution, he escaped from prison in a mass jailbreak, before being brought back in to finish his sentence and ultimately being released in March 2015.
Since the hijacking, Egyptian officials have defended Egypt’s airport security protocols, noting that Mostafa passed through appropriate security screening and was not actually carrying explosives when he boarded the flight.
According to a statement from foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid, the hijacking was “an entirely unique and unforeseeable set of events” and an “isolated, exceptional, and ultimately unavoidable incident.”