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Bail denied to man who tried to force his way into cockpit of American Airlines flight

May 10, 2011 |  6:55 pm


A federal judge denied bail Tuesday to a Yemen native who tried to force his way into the cockpit of an American Airlines flight en route from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to San Francisco International Airport.

Shortly before the end of the Sunday night flight, Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi left his seat near the back of the plane and made his way to the first-class cabin, according to an affidavit filed by Paul A. Howard, a federal air marshal.

A flight attendant saw him trying to open the cockpit door and, thinking he had mistaken it for the restroom, tried to point Al-Murisi in the right direction. At that point, Howard said, Al-Murisi lowered his left shoulder and rammed the cockpit door.

In court on Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Atty. Elise Becker said Al-Murisi was shouting “Allahu Akbar” –- “God is great” in Arabic –- as he was wrestled to the ground. It was the same phrase, she said, that the assailants who hijacked Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, shouted.

Al-Murisi, who has been charged with interfering with a flight crew, had no luggage, was traveling with various forms of identification, $47 and an Apple computer charger. Becker argued Tuesday that he was a threat to the community and a flight risk.

A federal law enforcement source said that Al-Murisi is not tied to any terrorist groups and that there is no terrorism allegation involved.

Judge James Larson denied bail. Al-Murisi is scheduled to be back in court on Friday.


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-- Maria L. La Ganga in San Francisco and Richard Serrano in Washington

Photo: Police and firefighters detain Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi at San Francisco's airport. Credit: Andrew Wai / Associated Press