Colorado

Apr 8, 2010 6:22 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Qatar diplomat was heading to Florence to meet with Al-Qaeda agent

A Middle Eastern diplomat -- who smoked in the bathroom of a plane bound from Washington to Denver, and then reportedly joked about trying to light his shoes -- is being sent packing.

U.S. officials say the diplomat from Qatar is being recalled to that country, or transferred elsewhere. And as a result, they say, the U.S. government won't take any formal action against him.

The officials say they expect Mohammed Al-Madadi to leave the U.S. later today or tomorrow.

Al-Madadi was on his way to Florence to visit a convicted Al-Qaeda agent imprisoned in the federal penitentiary.

Authorities say he sneaked a cigarette in the jetliner's bathroom -- and then, when he was asked about the smoke, he joked about lighting his shoe on fire.

Officials say air marshals aboard the flight restrained the man and he was questioned. The plane landed safely as military jets were scrambled. He was released from custody today and headed back to Washington.

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