28 year old Rageh Al-Murisi, of Vallejo, Calif., got up from his seat and went toward the cockpit door 10 minutes before the flight from Chicago was supposed to land on May 9th. After being told that that door wasn’t the restroom, Al-Murisi made eye contact with a crew member, lowered his shoulder and started to ram into the door. The crew member then got between Al-Murisi and the door, but Al-Murisi kept yelling and pushing forward in an attempt to open it, according to the affidavit.
Court documents say Al-Murisi repeatedly yelled “Allahu Akbar,” or Arabic for “God is great,” and tried twice to open the cockpit door before finally being subdued by a crew member and several passengers, including a retired Secret Service agent and a former police officer. Flight 1561 landed safely at San Francisco International Airport, but not without frightening passengers who became alarmed from his unruly behavior. He was taken into custody at landing.
Rageh had a Yemeni passport on him. Yemen, a nation at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, has been a focus of U.S. officials because one of the most active branches of al-Qaida operates in the remote part of the country. Authorities have said Al-Murisi has no clear or known ties to terrorism and investigators have not yet established a possible motive.
Judge James Larson denied bail for Al-Murisi, but planned to revisit the issue on Friday.