EgyptAir hijacker 'man of few words, troublemaker,' say neighbours

Ahram Online , Tuesday 29 Mar 2016

A social media photo allegedly taken during the hostage situation showing hijacker Mustafa next an unknown passenger who appears to be grinning

The mental condition of the middle-aged Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir plane – forcing its landing in Cyprus where he was arrested – has been under scrutiny since the beginning of the scare.

Seif El-Din Mustafa, who claimed to be wearing an explosive belt that authorities said turned out to be fake, while on board made phone calls that Egyptian civil aviation minister Sherif Fathy said had showed he was not a terrorist but a man with personal and mental problems.

Mustafa surrendered after hours of negotiations with Cypriot officials, though his exact motives and demands remain unclear.

The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CYBC) reported that Mustafa may have had personal motives and that he had an ex-wife in Cyprus, which one of his neighbours said is quite plausible.

"His Cypriot wife took their children and flew back home after disagreements between them, so I expect he did all that so he could go to them," the neighbour, Um Assmaa, told Al-Ahram's Arabic website.

She added that Mustafa was a "troublemaker" during the time he lived in the working-class Cairo neighbourhood, saying he once impersonated someone and the police sought to arrest him as a result.

"He was a man of a few words," said Anwar, another neighbour who said that psychological problems seem to run in Mustafa's family.

Mohamed Mustafa, who lives in the same area, echoed similar sentiments.

A few images of Mustafa were believed to have been taken during the hostage situation, some of which show the fake device strapped around his waist.

One image shows the grey-haired Mustafa wearing glasses and standing casually next to an unknown, seemingly unfazed and grinning male passenger.

A total of 55 passengers, including Egyptians, Americans and British nationals, were on board the plane.

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