Ben Innes, a passenger on EgyptAir flight 181 from Alexandria to Cairo, took a selfie with a man who reportedly hijacked the plane on March 29 (video below).
The suspect, Seif Eldin Mustafa, allegedly threatened to blow up the aircraft with a bomb belt and diverted the plane to Larnaca, Cyprus, which resulted in a five-hour stand-off with authorities, notes The Sun.
While being held hostage at the Larnaca International airport, Innes asked to have a picture taken with Mustafa.
“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," Innes told The Sun.
“I figured if his bomb was real I’d nothing lose anyway, so took a chance to get a closer look at it," Innes recalled. “I got one of the cabin crew to translate for me and asked him if I could do a selfie with him."
“He just shrugged OK so I stood by him and smiled for the camera while a stewardess did the snap," Innes added. "It has to be the best selfie ever."
Mustafa's alleged bomb belt turned out to be a fake, but before the truth was discovered, he allowed women and children to leave the plane.
Innes, who was one of three foreign passengers and four crew members kept on the plane, recalled:
I could see he had what looked like a bomb and I was scared, but he didn’t seem particularly anxious as we first landed. He eventually let virtually all the passengers leave, but I was left behind with two other Brits. After about half an hour at Larnaca I asked for a photo with him as we were sitting around waiting. I thought, "Why not? If he blows us all up it won’t matter anyway."
I also thought it would be a way to see whether his device was real. I could see something taped around his waist and he was holding on to some kind of a trigger. It was hard to be sure, but I reckoned it was more likely to be fake after I got a close look at it. So I decided to go back to my seat and plot my next move.
Innes' next move was texting his mother, who reportedly called her son's actions "stupid."
“My mum was obviously frantic with worry and kept telling me not to do anything to draw attention to myself," Innes told The Sun. "I didn’t know how to tell her I’d already done a selfie with the hijacker.”
According to Innes, the crew was allowed to leave the plane, and his group escaped soon after.
“We moved towards the door as he went to the back of the plane, then we ran for it, expecting the aircraft to explode," Innes stated. “When we got to a safe distance, we laughed out loud with relief.”
Mustafa eventually left the plane and was taken into custody.
Will Geddes, a security expert at the ICP Group, said, “I suppose it’s a sign of the times, it’s the Facebook selfie generation, but this was highly irresponsible."
“A hijacker is in a highly volatile mental state and doing anything erratic can inflame the situation," Geddes added. “Such a dangerous selfish act is complete and utter madness.”
In response to mass criticism, Innes told ABC News on April 1 that he wanted to make Mustafa understand that he was a real person, get a better look at the supposed bomb belt and see if Mustafa had any other weapons.
Innes said he had no regrets about what he did on the plane.
An unidentified Dutch passenger filmed Innes asking a crew member if he could have a selfie with Mustafa and posing for the picture, reports The Telegraph.