Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Allahu Akbar," "Just a Misunderstanding," and Getting a Grip

I've said this before: with friends like this, Islam doesn't need enemies.

American air travelers had three breaks in routine recently. One of them was on American Airlines Flight 1561, headed for San Francisco.

A fidgety fellow got up, headed for the cockpit door, knocked (his cousin's version) or pounded (what his fellow-passengers say) on the door, screamed (or yelled, or said) "Allahu Akbar!" Then a flight attendant, a retired Secret Service agent, a retired San Mateo police officer, and assorted other crew and passengers held the excited fellow while the flight attendant fitted him with plastic handcuffs.

"Allahu Akbar," Unemployment, and Getting a Grip

For all I know, this could be more of an argument for banning alcoholic beverages for passengers, than an example of thwarted terrorism.

The "Allahu Akbar!" fellow - whose cousin was back in New York, not on the flight - wasn't carrying a weapon.

The fellow's name is Rageh Almurisi. He's a citizen of Yemen. He's here in America, legally, trying to find work. So far, he's been unsuccessful at that.

An easy explanation for what Mr. Almurisi did on American Airlines Flight 1561 is that Americans hate all Muslims and are intolerant and burn crosses and are pretty much icky. Except for the nice, tolerant Americans who burn the American flag and vote for the right people. Or, rather, the left people - and that's another topic.

I'm not really convinced that particular easy explanation fits.

I'm definitely not convinced that we're looking at a case of thwarted terrorism, either. Mr. Almarisi was, apparently, unemployed and looking for work. I've been in that position: and it can be stressful.

I didn't start pounding on a cockpit door and yelling "Allahu Akbar!" - but different folks react differently to stress.

Islamophobia, and Something to Talk About

Maybe I'm being too cynical, but I think that the two clerics who just happened to get booted off a flight might have hoped for that result. They were on their way to an "Islamophobia" conference. They presumably missed that one - but now they can sue people, and have something to talk about for the next series of earnest conferences.

Like I said, though: maybe I'm being too cynical. Or, not:I've put excerpts from recent news at the end of this post.1

America is Okay

I don't think America is perfect. At all.

I don't think America is responsible for all that is icky, either.

And, on the whole, I'd rather live here than anywhere else on Earth. I've looked at my options, by the way. Like I said, I don't think America is perfect: and I've gotten profoundly fed up a few times.

Are there narrow-minded, intolerant Americans? In my opinion, yes. Also in my opinion, they're not all wacky conservatives. And that's yet another topic.

Does America have a perfect record, when it comes to tolerance? Of course not.

On the other hand, I think this country does pretty well where folks who aren't in lockstep with the dominant culture are concerned. That's my opinion - from the point of view of someone in a counter-culture. (see A Catholic Citizen in America (January 12, 2010))

As for the fellow from Yemen, who did what he could to convinced the other passengers that they were in mortal danger?

He was restrained, handcuffed, and is now going through the tedious process of an American trial. In which I'm pretty sure that the rights of the accused will be recognized.

Perhaps more to the point - he's alive: which was optional, given the stunt he pulled.

Somewhat-related posts:In the news:
1 Excerpts from the news:
"Air marshal: Suspect tried to open cockpit door"
CBS/AP News (May 10, 2011)

"A man who was arrested after causing a disturbance on a San Francisco-bound American Airlines flight twice tried to open the cockpit door, the second time after a crew member told him that the restroom was to his left, a federal air marshal said in a court affidavit.

"Rageh Al-Murisi, a California resident who was carrying a Yemeni passport, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday on a charge of interfering with flight crew members and attendants.

"In the court affidavit filed on Monday, Air Marshal Paul Howard said after being told that wasn't the restroom, Al-Murisi made eye contact with the crew member, lowered his shoulder and rammed the door. The crew member told Howard he 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...."
"Yemeni man stopped by passengers pounding on American Airlines cockpit a 'nice guy': cousin"
Nancy Dillon, NYDailyNews.com (May 9, 2011)

"The Yemeni man arrested after pounding on the cockpit door on a flight to California is a 'nice guy' who has been living in New York with his cabbie brother, a cousin told the Daily News.

" 'He's not a terrorist, trust me,' said Rageh Almoraissi, 29, a small business owner in Vallejo, Calif., who has the same name as the suspect.

" 'If he was a terrorist, he would have had some kind of weapon," he said. 'You don't knock on a door as a terrorist act. I think it was just a misunderstanding.'..."
"Flurry of Airline Incidents Reported"
Ted Reed, The Street (May 9, 2011)

"A flurry of airline incidents have been reported aboard commercial aircraft this past weekend.

"Three security incidents occurred on Sunday.

"As an American(AMR_) flight from Chicago approached San Francisco, a passenger began pounding on the cockpit door and screaming, according to The Associated Press. The passenger, who had a Yemeni passport, was wrestled to the floor and handcuffed by flight attendants and passengers. He faces federal charges of interfering with a flight crew.

"Additionally, a Continental flight from Houston to Chicago was diverted to St. Louis after a passenger tried to open a door. Also, a Delta flight was diverted to Albuquerque, N.M., after a note was found in a bathroom with the word 'bomb' written on it. Authorities found no suspicious devices on the aircraft.

"A passenger told The Associated Press that the pilot announced that the note had been found. 'The captain came on and said, "You notice we're declining. We're getting ready to divert. It's probably a hoax, but we've got to take this very seriously," ' the passenger said.

"On Friday, two Muslim clerics wearing traditional garb, traveling from Memphis, Tenn., to a conference in Charlotte, N.C., were kicked off an Atlantic Southeast plane operating as a Delta(DAL_) Connection flight.

"Early reports indicated their removal was ordered by the aircraft's pilot. On Friday, Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jon Allen had told the Commercial Appeal of Memphis that the men 'were screened and cleared to fly' by the agency. But later, one of the passengers told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that 'he spoke to the pilot after landing in Charlotte and the pilot told him that TSA requested the plane return to the terminal.'

"An airline spokesman said the incident was under investigation. The two clerics were put on aircraft that departed later. It turned out the clerics were headed to a weekend conference on 'Islamophobia' in Charlotte.

" 'The irony of their going to a convention on Islamophobia when this happened is not lost,' said aviation consultant Robert Mann. ..."
"Suspect in flight disturbance had Calif. ID"
Associated Press, via FoxNews.com (May 9, 2011)

"...Marty, 35, recalled that she and other passengers on the plane were stunned when they saw Almurisi walking down the aisle. She said a woman in a row across from her who speaks Arabic translated that Almurisi said 'God is Great!' in Arabic.

"Andrew Wai, another passenger, told KGO-TV on Monday that the wife of one of the men who took Almurisi down later said Almurisi was yelling 'Allahu Akbar.'

" 'There was no question in everybody's mind that he was going to do something,' Marty said.

"A male flight attendant tackled Almurisi, and other crew members and passengers, including a retired Secret Service agent and a retired San Mateo police officer, helped subdue him as he banged on the door, police said. The flight attendant put plastic handcuffs on him.

" 'Everybody was fixated on him,' Marty said. 'You never think that something like that would happen in your life.'

"Wai also said Almurisi appeared 'fidgety' in his seat when he saw him on the way to the bathroom earlier in the flight.

"The Boeing 737 carrying 162 people landed safely at 9:10 p.m. Almurisi was placed into police custody, as some passengers cried...."


Brigid said...

Of? "whose cousin was back in New York, not of the flight"

No? "and is no going through the tedious process of an American trial."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...


Found 'em, fixed 'em. Although, technically, "not of the flight" is correct. Not the sort of thing folks say these days, but correct.

Still, I've decided to use a late-20th-century American dialect of English: so I'd better stick with it.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.