Nothing to see here. Move along! Except, of course, the fact that a man with a Yemeni passport attempted to storm a cockpit on an intrastate flight in California yesterday, shouting “Allahu akbar” as he pounded on the door (via the Boss Emeritus):
The passengers sat stunned as they watched a man walk quickly toward the front of American Airlines Flight 1561 as it was descending toward San Francisco. He was screaming and then began pounding on the cockpit door.
“I kept saying to myself: ‘What’s he doing? Does he have a bomb? Is he armed?’” passenger Angelina Marty said.
Within moments Sunday, a flight attendant tackled Rageh Almurisi. Authorities do not yet have a motive.
While authorities said that Almurisi, 28, of Vallejo, Calif., has no clear or known ties to terrorism, the incident underscored fears that extremists may try to mount attacks to retaliate for the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden last week.
Federal agents are investigating Almurisi’s background. He was carrying a Yemeni passport and a California identification card, authorities said.
One piece of good news comes out of this story — after almost 10 years, Americans still understand the lesson from 9/11. Airline security isn’t just a matter for the TSA. The passengers and crew jumped on the man before he could do any damage to the plane, and a flight attendant quickly immobilized him. Two of the passengers were retired law enforcement, two men who obviously still take their commitment seriously.
Michelle wonders whether the US government will treat this incident as a “nothing burger.” I suspect that they may, especially since it seems for the moment that the only weapon he could get on the plane was himself. The act was so impotent that it would strongly suggest a lack of coordination, although it could also have been a probe to check for American complacency. It should be taken seriously — and I suspect that the passengers of AA1561 would agree.