Passengers, Flight Crew Subdue Unruly Man on SFO-Bound Plane

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (CBS 5 / KCBS / AP) — A passenger aboard a Chicago-to-San Francisco flight was wrestled to the floor by flight attendants and fellow passengers late Sunday night after the man began yelling and banging on the cockpit door as the flight approached SFO, according to authorities.

28-year-old Rageh Almurisi of Vallejo was seated in the coach section of American Airlines Flight 1561 when he allegedly started to walk briskly toward the front of the plane within 30 minutes of its scheduled landing at SFO, San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Rodriguez said.

A flight attendant said it seemed, initially, that he was going to the forward bathroom. However, once Almurisi walked past the first class section and the bathroom, the flight attendant asked him to sit back down.

Almurisi apparently ignored the order and started to yell unintelligibly and pound on the cockpit door.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Fellow passenger Andrew Wai of San Francisco told CBS 5 that Almurisi seemed fidgety throughout the flight.

“He had been yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ running down the aisle and then either him of passengers started yelling go, go, go,” Wai said.

Allah Akbar means “God is Great” in Arabic.

Martelle said a flight attendant asked for assistance with the passenger and a number of people responded, including an off-duty American Airlines pilot.

Federal Complaint Against Passenger (.pdf)

“After he was subdued, they found a seat nearby where they could monitor him,” Martelle said.

Rodriguez said Almurisi was wrestled to the ground by crew members and two passengers — a retired Secret Service agent and a retired San Mateo police officer.

He was put in plastic handcuffs and placed in a nearby seat until the Boeing 737 landed at SFO at 9:12 p.m.

Wai said he feared the worst, an al Qaeda plot to avenge Osama bin Laden’s death.

“It was a big moment of relief, especially when we landed on the tarmac and knew we were going to be on the ground and not flying into a building in San Francisco,” said Wai.

San Francisco police were notified about the disturbance before the plane landed, and were waiting to take Almurisi into custody as soon as the plane touched down.

Because Almurisi struggled when he was wrestled to the floor, he had apparent abrasions on his body, Rodriguez acknowledged. No other people aboard the flight suffered any injuries.

Police transported the man to San Mateo County General Hospital for treatment before he was booked at the San Mateo County Jail in Redwood City about 1:30 a.m., where he was charged with interfering with a flight crew – a federal offense.

At the time of his arrest, Almurisi was in possession of a Yemeni passport as well as a California identification card, Rodriguez said.

Police said Almurisi has no clear or known ties to terrorism.

Rodriguez said authorities have not yet established a motive for why Almurisi got up from his seat and went toward the cockpit door.

A cousin of the suspect described him as an educated, easygoing person who had arrived in the Bay Area a year-and-a-half ago from Yemen in search of better opportunities.

He was unable to find work in Vallejo, a city hit hard by the real estate bust, and recently moved to New York where his brother lived in search of better luck, said Rageh Almoraissi, 29, of Vallejo.

Almurisi had not told his extended family in California that he was returning to the area, Almoraissi said.

“He’s very laid back, he’s always smiling, he’s always laughing. He’s not an angry person,” Almoraissi said. “Everybody’s worried about him. It’s not typical of him.”

Almoraissi said he could not imagine what may have caused his cousin to act as authorities allege he did on the plane, but said he was certain Almurisi was not a terrorist. He said his cousin did not show an interest in politics and was not intensely religious.

“He might have seriously mistaken the cockpit for the bathroom,” Almoraissi said. “He’s only been on three planes in his whole life.” Almurisi was taking classes in California to learn English but was not happy with his progress, his cousin said.

The plane originated at LaGuardia Airport in New York and was headed to SFO by way of Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The airport continued to operate normally and there were no delays related to the incident.

“This seems to be an isolated incident and San Francisco police are doing everything to investigate the case,” Rodriguez emphasized.

Almurisi is due to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate James Larson in San Francisco at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday on the charge filed by federal prosecutors.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

More from Doug Sovern
  • Dennis Clay Jr.

    And it begins…

    • Boocho

      I am going to go burry my head in the sand because I am too stupid to understand what this was about. I will wait and see what our government tells me I should believe.

      • Mucho Macho

        Ha – good one!. Or, are you the spokesperson for the entire Democratic Party? I’m confused now.

    • wind in his hair

      How did this guy get through TSA? Shouldn’t they have caught him? I guess we can’t rely on TSA after all.

      • genomega1

        The TSA is a billion dollar joke. We molest 6 year old children and harass 80 year old seniors but a Muslim woman in full garb cannot be patted down or scanned.
        You tell me.

      • EJ

        TSA is anti-American, period. Traitors all, they haven’t stopped a single thing, just felt up a bunch of people and violated our rights. THEY are the terrorists.

      • D

        I didn’t see any information that indicates he had a weapon. Unfortunately, you can’t scan for “crazy”.

    • jason

      Patty doesn’t exist – just another bogus, liberal post from a terrorist who trick and pollute the minds of STUPID LIBERALS. “ALLAH AHKBAR!!!!” Umm. Yeah. Hey – maybe he thought he just won the lottery. Oh wait, he was cut off from any communication: i.e. he’s a bleeping TERRORIST you clown. The difference between Liberals and the voyagers on the Titanic was that they were both ignorant of the state of affairs, but the people aboard The Titanic didn’t VOTE to HIT the ice berg!

      • jdaniel

        Captain Smiith of the Titanic to final passengers: “Beside the mishap, did you enjoy the band?”

    • EJ

      Kill all terrorists.

      • w

        Did he yell “Geronimo”?

    • david laird

      Just throwing this out there- he seems like he may be playing a ‘death by cop’ type scenario, with a little ‘Do the Right Thing’ mixed in. Maybe he wanted to go to jail, or thought someone would shoot him as soon as he started shouting ‘allah akbar’

      • Dotcommie

        @david laird

        “Just throwing this out there- he seems like he may be playing a ‘death by cop’ type scenario…”

        Possibly. Whether he was or wasn’t, he’s lucky that he didn’t get what he wanted. Although many people are posting about making him dead, I think that it’s very appropriate to remind everyone that God-fearing Americans will give the proper amount of force required for a situation.

        The guys that took him down didn’t need to kill him. That may be because he was in a bad place, mentally, and really wasn’t a terrorist. A real terrorist, out to kill, would not have received the same treatment. The more they fight, the more we will return fire.

      • D

        That makes more sense than any of the other comments being made here.

    • Patty Cakes

      do not assume until you have the full information

      • idaho2run

        What an idiotic comment. Another out-of-control member of the religion of peace. Does that make 2,000 incidents or attacks now?
        Is this an isolated incident?
        Wake up.
        Bet you have never spent time in the East, have you?

      • Dave

        Some guy yells “allahu akbar”, on an airplane, and we are not to come to any obvious conclusions? Really?

      • Richard Schulze

        I’ll bet he wasn’t even ‘fingered’ by TSA. They’re busy checking poop in diapers and molesting granny.

      • Chicagoan

        Assume my pancakes… what’s there to assume, huh? These events have been going on incessantly since 9/11. There are hundreds of unreported terrorist events that occur every year. Wise up. Neither Islam nor it’s followers are friends to the Western culture, to freedom, nor to democracy.

      • muhammed atta

        Patty, this means you are into Caviar? Thank Allah for trained professionals. My my untrained lay-person’s hands, his neck would have been torn open, and he would have drowned in his own blood.

      • Hugh Mungous

        they should have done a dance on his face 4 or 5 times

      • ted

        Hey Patty Cakes is right, wait till we have the full info. So lets break out the water board and get it!

      • Kathy Ozanne

        When is THAT going to happen? Come on, you KNOW that revenge is a dish best served cold in the Eastern mind. Stop thinking like a Westerner.

      • omstrat

        PS Patty , get off line before mom catches you again , Go finish your homework and let the big people chat on here OK ? Geeez Patty you want to spend ANOTHER year in High School AGAIN

      • expertskier

        @Patty Cakes …. “do not assume until you have the full information

        May 9, 2011 at 8:34 am ”

        All the information I would’ve required to take this pos out happened as soon as the flight attendant ordered him seated while he was advancing …. and if I had heard him say allah akbar when he started to move … I would have all the information I needed … right then and there … to rip his nuts off and feed them to him ….

      • genomega1

        Yeah we know the drill, just another isolated incident.

      • Mike

        Hey Patty Cakes. How do you know when you have the full information? I am rather perturbed at people who say don’t judge until “all” the information is in. And just when does that happen and how is it decreed and communicated to the public so one we can express his/her constitutional right of free speech? BTW, “all” the information is never in. Your PC equivocation is a joke. A duck is a duck is a duck.

      • crypticguise

        I don’t need full information to kill him. Someone should have broken his neck, accidentally or otherwise.

      • Olddago

        Hey patty we have all the information… He’s a MUSLIM.

      • Oren

        He’s from Yemen with a California ID. That’s enough information thank you. You’d wait until he blew everyone out of the sky before the first ? popped up.

      • Doustoi

        I suppose the ‘full information’ includes how many people died from the suspect’s terrorist act?

    • joshbot

      Realistically terrorists will kill everyone reading this. Freedom is dangerous so the Constitution is your enemy. If you don’t obey you hate America. Do not watch Fabled Enemies at youtube.

  • Man Subdued After Disrupting Flight To Chicago « CBS Chicago

    […] struggled when he was wrestled to the floor, he had apparent abrasions on his body, Rodriguez told KPIX-TV, San Francisco. No other people aboard the flight suffered any […]

  • Booga

    Someone forgot to take their meds.


    For all of us who fly, are you prepared to subdue or help subdue another passenger who might attempt to bring down the plane you’re on???
    What will YOU do? What CAN you do?

    • expertskier

      Oh … yes … I am quite prepared …. what will I do if needed has nothing at all to do with what I can do …. I am quite prepared …. the end result of custody for the jagoff at the end of the flight was never even considered ….

    • HansDelbrucke

      Yes, As I walk to my seat, and after I am there, I look at everyone boarding the plane and determine, if necessary, can I take that person down by myself, if need be. I am willing to protect my family and my country, unlike many of the passengers who board that same plane.

      • GI-JOE

        I’m with you pal! Most people will not act, but if the situation ever arises I’ll be on his neck with you! He won’t live to see the light of day.

      • GI Jehova

      • InTheBubble

        Gotta love that GI Jehova video. That one had me howling.

  • Texas Dave

    You have to know you are going to get a whoopin for actions like these. The passengers will line up to help see you get it!!!

  • jerb

    I mean, there is a genuine phenomenon where people go crazos because of the altitude. Hope that’s all this is.

    • Dave

      That’s a very nice sentiment, but the facts don’t support it. The ‘altitude’ in the cabin is only slightly higher than Denver, and people with atltude sickness don’t spontaneously yell “alahu akbar”.

    • jdaniel

      Or maybe he just needed a few virgins.



    • fi,nb

      We can’t waterboard; it’s uncivilized. A .223 caliber double-tap to the face is what our advanced liberal culture has deemed appropriate.

      • PClifford

        Good Call!

      • Billy

        Works for me…

      • expertskier

        Pardon …. 9mm …

      • Dan

        .308 SOCOM II ftw.

  • BillG

    Once again, we have another “isolated” incident coupled with the hundreds of other “isolated” incidents….WAKE UP..BE VIGILANT

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  • fi,nb

    Police said Almurisi has no clear or known ties to terrorism.

    Then they looked at his name….

    • Eric

      And his Yemeni passport, maybe? Or the fact that he was in Yemen and only recently returned to the U.S.? Could ANY of those be any kind of indicator that this dirtbag might have had less than honorable intentions? Hmmmm? Nah, couldn’t be – oh look, here comes another little kid, let’s feel her up!

  • borntobepolitical

    Sorry, was that Ralph Almquist? Because we have to apply the same scrutiny to an Almquist as we do an Almurisi.

    We would not want to offend anyone.

  • Justice

    Oh a plane from CLE to IAD a couple weeks ago – some jerk (seemed White American) tried to get up to go to the bathroom during the approach – it was a small plane and an additional crew member was seated in a pull down seat in from on the door (to the toilet room) then he comes up from while the (male) flight attendant yell at him. Moron drank so much (beer) on the less than one hour flight, he claimed he MUST get into the toilet. Idiot doesn’t realize how lucky he was that the other passengers didn’t tackle him.

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  • Adina Kutnicki, Israel

    adela, of course you are correct. However, the lunatics running the asylum contend-move along, nothing to see here…..until a mushroom cloud wafts over any city USA!!That’s their ultimate goal, regardless of the PC loons in media and political leadership.
    Let this Yemeni try such a stunt on El Al, our national airlines.They know what to do with ‘isolated’ incidents.

    • expertskier

      I’ve had friends fly El-Al out of Israel …. they all just loooove the way those mirrors make the terminal look so much bigger …. ;)

    • BigBoa

      Unfortunately they appear to be the only one that knows…..

      We are way too concerned with catering to the muslims now that we have one in the Whitehouse…. he has made it his goal to push islam on the nation and crucify anyone that tries to stop him…..

  • togwoo

    SOunds to me like this dude has some serious issues.

  • crypticguise

    He’s a Muslim. An IslamoFascist terrorist. He should be hanged. Why bother wasting time with him.

  • Jim

    He must be a moderate since he did not explode.

    • keith wren

      They can’t all have a bomb in their diaper like the famous “diaper bomber” did!

  • keith wren

    “Police said Almurisi has no clear or known ties to terrorism.”
    So What!!! Do each of them have to kill a few thousand of us before our “political correct leaders” can finally realize exactly what a terrorist is?
    There are at the very least a billion of “those people” on this earth and everyone of them would either kill us all or cheer for the others that did.
    Another thing… “28-year-old Rageh Almurisi of Vallejo” is not of Vallejo at all… Get real!

  • BigBoa

    Was this another Quaker attack??


  • Osama Bin Burnin

    Why was this muslim even allowed into the USA? Because of our suicidal adherence to an insane multicultural doctrine. Diversity is destroying us.

    • BigBoa

      Because Obozo says we must not make the muslims upset……

      • Mark

        I know, the assassination of Bin Laden has been so well received by the Muslims.

  • weewayne

    i say stand on his neck till the plane lands

  • keith wren

    From the replies on this blog I have to wonder why people like you aren’t the ones running this country. Things would obviously be different and our leaders wouldn’t be making the laws that they call political correctness that coddle the terrorists and will eventually destroy us all.
    On second thought I think that I know the answer… We have the so called “progressive leaders” that stand for everything we hate because most of you people “sell your soul” and keep voting them in. Think about it…

  • James Ferguson

    I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John

    Well, apparently he suffered some abrasions, while the passengers who tackled him had NO injuries. I certainly hope that Obama has Eric Holder look into this attack on Mr. Almurisi as a hate crime!!!

    • Nemi

      JOHN; HATE CRIME HELL! Thats RACIST. Six NATIVE BORN CAUCASIAN AMERICAMS ganging up on the poor muslim.

  • jake49

    Gee guess what religion.

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