The man traveling from Chicago to San Francisco carried no luggage, bought a one-way ticket and was a citizen of Yemen (a place known as a hotbed of jihad activity), yet he apparently rang no bells for TSA employees. They must have been busy groping toddlers.
Furthermore, Al-Murisi didn't have house keys and hadn't notified his relatives in the Bay Area that he was returning. Passengers said he looked nervous and fidgety. Maybe he was suffering from elevated stress caused by immigration and unemployment, which he sought to morph into an Islamic expression in the style of Sudden Jihad Syndrome.
One lesson is that we taxpayers and ticket-buyers are financing a multi-billion-dollar TSA system that is politically correct window dressing, incapable of spotting an obviously suspicious character. Not that the fact is news, but this case is pretty egregious.
And why is Washington putting out the immigration welcome mat in unfriendly places like Yemen??!! Can't we get along without Yemeni diversity?
At least the perp didn't get bail this morning. The judge understood that the guy represents a threat and is a flight risk. Good.
Yemeni accused of storming cockpit traveled light, San Francisco Chronicle, May 10, 2011
A Yemeni immigrant who allegedly tried to break into the locked cockpit of an American Airlines flight bound for San Francisco carried no luggage with him, prosecutors said today as a judge ordered him held without bail on the grounds that he was a threat to the community.
Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi, 28, who lived briefly in Vallejo before moving to New York, carried only $47 in cash, a variety of valid and expired documents from New York and California and two postdated checks, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elise Becker told U.S. Magistrate James Larson in San Francisco.
He has relatives in Vallejo, Becker said, but they did not know he was en route to the Bay Area.
Al-Murisi repeatedly yelled, "Allah Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," when he strode toward the cockpit of the Boeing 737 and tried to force open the door as the plane approached San Francisco International Airport on Sunday night, Becker said.
The federal prosecutor noted that the Arabic phrase has been used by Islamic individuals in other high-profile crimes, including al Qaeda operatives during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the American-born Muslim who opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, killing 13 U.S. soldiers.
"The defendant poses a significant threat," Becker said. "He attempted to enter the cockpit right before a critical part of the flight."
Larson agreed, rejecting arguments by Al-Murisi's attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Falk, that the government had not shown that her client was a danger to the public.
Al-Murisi, who appeared in court with an Arabic interpreter, is charged with interfering with a flight crew. He was ordered to return to court Friday for a detention hearing.
Outside court, Ahmed Almoraissi, 25, of Vallejo, said his cousin was not a terrorist and has worked as a math teacher in Yemen, where his wife and children live. Almoraissi said he was at a loss to explain Al-Murisi's behavior.
"He's a very normal guy," Almoraissi said. "He has no intent of hurting nobody. I don't know what happened on the plane. It doesn't make sense. When I first heard about it, I couldn't believe it."
Authorities have not outlined a possible motive in the incident. Becker, however, said there were enough suspicious circumstances to justify keeping Al-Murisi in custody.
He did not tell his cousins in Vallejo that he was coming from New York, and none of his belongings were at his relatives' home, the prosecutor said.
Relatives say Al-Murisi once lived on Sonoma Boulevard in Vallejo - next to the Islamic Center of Vallejo - but moved to New York about a year ago in hopes of finding a job to support his family.
Al-Murisi arrived in the United States on an immigrant visa in January 2010 and has a permanent residency card, Becker said. He obtained driver's licenses in both New York and California and has two learner's permits in New York, the prosecutor said without elaborating.
Al-Murisi carried two postdated checks, one dated May 15 for $5,000 and the other dated June 20 for $8,000, Becker said. Besides that, he had only $47 and an Apple charger on him, and had no luggage, keys or cell phone, she said.
The incident began about 8:50 p.m. Sunday when American Airlines Flight 1561, carrying 156 passengers and six crew members from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, was about a half hour from landing at San Francisco.
Al-Murisi walked quickly to the front of the plane, tried the door of the cockpit door handle and then rammed the door with his shoulder, prompting flight attendants, two retired-law enforcement officials and an off-duty American Airlines pilot to jump from their seats to help subdue him. Al-Murisi suffered minor abrasions.
Before boarding the San Francisco-bound plane, Al-Murisi flew into Chicago on a separate American Airlines flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York, airline officials said.