'Definitely not' terrorist, says cousin of unruly passenger 

Updated at 3:15 p.m.: Yemeni man who pounded cockpit door "definitely not a terrorist," his cousin says.

A Yemeni man subdued by flight attendants and passengers after he pounded on the cockpit door during a flight from Chicago to San Francisco on Sunday had no known terrorist affiliations, authorities said.

Rageh Almurisi, 28, who had both a Yemeni passport and California ID card, went into an inexplicable rage on American Airlines Flight 1561 within 30 minutes of landing at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Rodriguez said. Flight attendents and two  passengers who were retired law enforcement officials subdued him, he said.

“He was a pretty big guy,” Rodriguez said.

Almurisi, who was seated in the coach section, walked "briskly" toward the front of the plane, seemingly to use the bathroom, but continued past the first class section and the bathroom, Rodriguez said. After a flight attendant asked him to return to his seat, Almurisi began hollering unintelligibly and pounding on the cockpit door, he said.

Crew members and three passengers — including a retired U.S. Secret Service agent and retired San Mateo cop — wrestled Almurisi to the ground. A flight attendant slapped on plastic handcuffs, Rodriguez said.

The flight landed safely around 9:15 p.m., he said. Cops boarded the plane and took Almurisi into custody.

“He didn’t go willingly,” Rodriguez said. “They had to carry him off.”

Almurisi had abrasions on his elbow and chin due to the scuffle, police said. No one else on the flight was injured.

Andrew Wai, a passenger aboard Sunday's flight, told KGO-TV that passengers were screaming and crying.

"Flight attendants were trying to soothe different passengers," Wai said. "We were all looking at our lives flash before our eyes."

Almurisi was taken into federal custody Monday after spending the night at the San Mateo County jail, said San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti. He was charged with interfering with a flight crew, a federal offense.

After interviewing Almurisi, federal investigators still did not know what prompted the outburst, Rodriguez said.

Rageh Almoraissi, Almurisi's cousin, said Monday the outburst had nothing to do with terrorism.

"There's a reason for himd doing what he did, and it has nothing to do with harming anyone or terrorism," said Almoraissi, who owns Double AA's smokeshop in Vallejo.

Almoraissi said the outburst could have been a misunderstanding. He said he did not believe his cousin had any mental issues or was on any medication. He may have been mistreated or stereotyped.

Almurisi was on his way to Vallejo to live with Almoraissi. Almurisi had previously lived in New York with his brother, Almoraissi said.

It was the third disturbance of the day in U.S. airspace.

A Continental Airlines flight from Houston to Chicago diverted in St. Louis after a 34-year-old man from Illinois tried to open a plane door during the flight, officials said.

Shortly before that, a Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit to San Diego was landed instead in Albuquerque, N.M., because of a security scare but authorities found “no suspicious devices” on the plane, an FBI spokesman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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