Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Self Censorship

There was a bit of news self-censorship yesterday. The story that most people heard was fairly tame.

A Yemeni man accused of trying to break into the cockpit of an American Airlines flight from Chicago to San Francisco over the weekend was charged on Monday with interfering with a flight crew.

A flight attendant and passengers subdued Rageh Al-Murisi, 28, after he tried to barge into the cockpit of Flight 1561 by ramming the door with his shoulder, according to the criminal complaint filed in District Court filed in San Francisco.

Some important details were left out of the wire service story:

Marty, 35, recalled Monday 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.

Wai, 27, also remembered 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.

This account from SFGate has more details.

Al-Murisi, described as a burly man, got up from his seat near the back of the plane and "walked briskly" toward the front, where he began yelling and tried to open the cockpit door by turning the handle, police and witnesses said.

"He was walking very fast all the way up to the front," said Angelina Marty, 35, of San Francisco, a passenger on the plane. "He kept walking faster and faster and faster. He was screaming something, and the lady in the row across from me who had spoken Arabic said, 'That's Arabic,' and she had translated it and said it was roughly, 'God is great.' "

Marty said Al-Murisi had approached the cockpit right after the pilot announced that the flight was within a half hour of arriving in San Francisco.

"It wasn't innocent at all, the way he was screaming and how quickly he was walking," Marty said. "You knew he was going to do something. It was by far the scariest thing I've ever been through."

A flight attendant thought Al-Murisi was looking for the bathroom and told him where it was, but Al-Murisi looked at the attendant and then "lowered his left shoulder and rammed the cockpit door," federal air marshal Paul Howard wrote in a court affidavit. The flight attendant got between the door and Al-Murisi, who "kept yelling and pushing forward in an attempt to open the cockpit door," Howard wrote.

Another flight attendant and several passengers - including a retired Secret Service agent, a retired San Mateo police officer and an off-duty American Airlines pilot - helped wrestle Al-Murisi to the floor, officials said.

So, the facts that the man was yelling "Allah Akbar" and it took more than four passengers to subdue him were not worth mentioning?

No comments: