A 28 year old Yemini man was tackled to the ground after knocking over a flight attendant while rushing towards the cockpit door of an American Airlines flight about to land shouting “Allahu Akbar” or “Allah is the Greatest”.
Passengers looked on in terror wondering what would happen as the plane was about to land in San Francisco.
The incident marks the third scare in two days. Many suggest the increase in scares and bomb threats are related to the killing of Osama bin Laden a little more over a week ago. The man, whose name is Rageit Almurisiaid cannot speak English very well and could have misunderstood the signs inside the jet, the man’s cousin claimed.
The man’s cousin said Almurisiaid came to California from Yemen a year-and-a-half ago looking for a better life. Yemen is looked on by many in the intelligence agency as being a hotspot for terrorism and Al Qaeda.
Almurisiaid got on the plane for the flight to California without notifying his family or loved ones his cousin said.
The cousin said:
‘He’s very laid back, he’s always smiling, he’s always laughing. He’s not an angry person. Everybody’s worried about him. It’s not typical of him.’
Almurisi had been taking classes in English but was not happy with his progress. His cousin said he had trouble finding work as well in California:
‘He might have seriously mistaken the cockpit for the bathroom. He’s only been on three planes in his whole life.’
One passenger on the plane Angelina Marty, said: ‘I kept saying to myself, “What’s he doing? Does he have a bomb? Is he armed?”.’
Ms Marty another passenger said: ‘There was no question in everybody’s mind that he was going to do something. Everybody was fixated on him. You never think that something like that would happen in your life.
Mr Wai, a passenger added: ‘Flight attendants were trying to soothe different passengers. We were all looking at our lives flash before our eyes.’
A male flight attendant and other passengers onboard tackled the man to the ground as the suspect banged on the cockpit door. The two passengers who helped were believed to be a retired Secret Service agent and a retired San Mateo police officer. The plane carrying 162 people landed safely at 9:10pm and Almurisi was taken into police custody. He was charged with interfering with a flight crew – a federal offense.