Man Carrying Yemeni Passport Tackled, Arrested on San Francisco-Bound Flight

May 9, 2011 - 7:54 AM
Crew Subdues Man Banging on Cockpit During Flight

American Airlines

An American Airlines jet on the tarmac at San Francisco International Airport in August 2010. (Associated Press photo)

San Francisco - Crew members and passengers wrestled a man to the cabin floor after he began pounding on the cockpit as an American Airlines flight approached San Francisco, the third security incident in a day on U.S. planes, authorities said Monday.

The man, who had a Yemeni passport, was yelling unintelligibly as he brushed past a flight attendant about 10 minutes before American Airlines Flight 1561 was due at San Francisco International Airport Sunday night, Sgt. Michael Rodriguez of the San Francisco police said.

A male flight attendant tackled the suspect, and other crew members and a couple of passengers aided as the suspect banged on the cockpit door.

"They were able to get him to ground and a flight attendant put him in plastic handcuffs," Rodriguez told The Associated Press.

The Boeing 737 carrying 162 people landed safely at 9:10 p.m. and the man was taken into police custody. The flight came from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

He was identified as Rageit Almurisi, 28. Though he carried a Yemen passport, it wasn't clear if his nationality was also Yemeni, Rodriguez said.

Almurisi was charged with interfering with a flight crew, a federal offense. No motive has been established and the officer said he had no information when asked if the disturbance was linked to terrorism.

During the scuffle, Almurisi sustained some bruises and was checked at a hospital before being transported to San Mateo County Jail, the officer said.

No one else on the plane was hurt and the airport continued operating normally with security levels unchanged, the officer said.

It was the third disturbance of the day in U.S. airspace.

A Continental Airlines flight from Houston to Chicago diverted in St. Louis after a 34-year-old man from Illinois tried to open a plane door during the flight, officials said.

Continental spokeswoman Julie King said Flight No. 546 landed around 1:30 p.m. and was grounded about an hour before resuming it journey.

FBI and airport police questioned the passenger. No charges have been filed.

Shortly before that, a Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit to San Diego was landed instead in Albuquerque, N.M., because of a security scare but authorities found "no suspicious devices" on the plane, an FBI spokesman said.

Agency spokesman Frank Fisher declined to clarify the nature of the "potential security threat" that caused Flight 1706 to land in New Mexico. He said agents searched the plane and interviewed the crew and 107 passengers before clearing the aircraft to fly again.

Albuquerque International Sunport spokesman Daniel Jiron also declined to say what the potential threat was. No one was arrested.

The flight was diverted at 10 a.m. MDT, and Jiron said it was cleared to fly again around 12:30 p.m.

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