How an ordinary man from Leeds became an international talking point...
Is this officially the riskiest selfie of all time? Never mind balancing on the edge of a cliff, British EgyptAir passenger Benjamin Innes took an extremely high-risk shot when he found himself on a hijacked plane in Cyprus. In the photograph Mr Innes from Leeds appeared to be pretty relaxed about the deadly hostage situation when he posed for a picture with hijacker Seif al-Din Mustafa, who appeared to be wearing a suicide vest (though this was later revealed to be bogus).
The drama unfolded when Mustafa stood up on a short flight from Cairo to Alexandria, telling passengers and crew that he was strapped with explosives. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Larnaca airport in Cyprus, where hostages were held for an hour on the plane before Mustafa began to release most of them, barring Mr Innes and a few others. Mustafa’s demands did not appear to be terrorism-related. While on the plane he issued a series of random demands, including one to see his ex-wife Marina Paraschou, who authorities raced to the village of Oroklini to collect.
Now released from the plane, Mr Innes from Leeds – who ironically works in health and safety – told The Sun why he chose to take a photo with the bogus suicide bomber. ‘I’m not sure why I did it’ he admitted, ‘I just threw caution to the wind while trying to stay cheerful in the face of adversity. I figured if his bomb was real I’d nothing to lose anyway, so took a chance to get a closer look at it.’
If you want to split hairs the picture wasn’t technically a selfie, as Mr Innes asked one of the cabin crew to take the photo for him. ‘I got one of the cabin crew to translate for me and asked him if I could do a selfie with him.’ he said, ‘he just shrugged OK so I stood by him and smiled for the camera while a stewardess did the snap. It has to be the best selfie ever.’
Mr Innes’s family back in the UK weren’t feeling quite so calm. ‘My mum was obviously frantic with worry and kept telling me not to do anything to draw attention to myself’ he said, ‘I didn’t know how to tell her I’d already done a selfie with the hijacker.’
He added that ‘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.’
Brave or completely bonkers? Tell us what you think in the comments below.