A Malaysia Airlines flight has been diverted back to Sydney Airport after a passenger reportedly began making alarming references to Islam onboard.
The MH122 flight took off just after 1pm with 199 passengers and 12 crew onboard and was bound for Kuala Lumpur, when a man wearing a backpack strapped to his stomach stood up in the aisle yelling he is a “slave to Islam”.
Australian Federal Police officers are responding to the emergency incident.
The plane is currently stationary on the tarmac and the incident has temporarily closed down one of Sydney Airport’s three runways.
A Sydney Airport spokesperson told SkyNews.com.au that they are assisting the AFP to manage the incident.
“We are currently supporting emergency agencies in the management of an incident at the airport,” the spokesperson said.
“The airport is operational with flights arriving and departing. Passengers are encouraged to check directly with their airline regarding the status of their flight.”
A passenger on board posted a video of the incident on social media, where the man can be heard demanding that the flight attendant say he is also a “slave to Allah.”
“My name is Mohammed, slave of Allah,” the man is heard yelling.
“Are you a slave of Allah? Are you? Say it. Say it! Are you a slave of Allah?”
The flight attendant is heard replying: “Yes I am.”
Passenger Sammi Marks described the man as a “big bloody unit” and said the “scared and confused” passengers have now exited the aircraft.
“Off the plane and now…waiting on a bus” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Absolute kudos to the cabin crew. I know they train for this stuff but keeping this guy contained was not easy.
“He’s not a small bloke – big bloody unit.”
Fellow passenger Muhammad Zubair told the Daily Telegraph that they had been anxiously waiting on the tarmac for over an hour.
“People are anxious now,” he told the publication.
A 45-year-old man has been arrested and is expected to be charged later tonight, an AFP spokesperson told SkyNews.com.au.
“A passenger on an international flight from Sydney to Malaysia has been arrested by the AFP,” the spokesperson said.
“The man, 45, was arrested by the AFP without incident.
“Passengers have now been evacuated from the aircraft. There is no impending threat to the community.”
A Malaysia Airlines spokesperson told SkyNews.com.au that the safety of its passengers and crew is of the “utmost importance.”
“Malaysia Airlines flight MH122 on 14 August 2023, returned to Sydney International Airport due to a disruptive passenger onboard,” the spokesperson said.
“In the interest of safety, the commander of the flight made a decision to return to Sydney.
“The flight carrying 199 passengers and 12 crew onboard landed safely at 3:47pm hours local time. “