Jan 9 2010
Weren't you curious about the identity of the 'unruly' passenger on AirTran Flight 39 from Atlanta yesterday that required two F-16 Fighter Jet escorts?
I know I was and read several reports but could not find out what I had always suspected until I found this from SF Gate today: HE WAS A MUSLIM: Muhammad Abu Tahir
SF GATE A San Francisco-bound AirTran Airways plane was diverted with a military F-16 escort to Colorado on Friday after a belligerent passenger locked himself in the plane’s bathroom, officials said. It was the second commercial flight to receive a military escort this week and the third plane diverted because of a passenger disruption.
The three incidents coincided with heightened airline security following a Nigerian man’s alleged attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day. AirTran Flight 39 left Atlanta at 10:36 a.m. EST with 132 passengers and five crew members. It was scheduled to land at San Francisco International Airport at 2:20 p.m. local time.
En route, the male passenger refused to follow crew instructions to return to his seat and locked himself in the rear lavatory, according to AirTran officials. They said he apparently was drunk. (Yeah, sure he was) The FBI identified the passenger as Muhammad Abu Tahir, 46, of Virginia, according to the Associated Press.
The AirTran pilot diverted the plane to Colorado Springs. Two F-16s were launched by the North American Aerospace Defense Command Region to intercept and escort the plane.
Local law enforcement and FBI officials met the AirTran plane at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport just before noon MST and detained Tahir. Security officers then used dogs to search the plane. Tahir was being held at the El Paso County jail, the FBI said. Federal charges for interference with a flight crew were expected to be filed Monday, the Associated Press reported.
After a three-hour delay, the AirTran plane left Colorado; it landed at SFO just after 5 p.m.
Also Friday, a Hawaiian Airlines plane bound from Las Vegas to Hawaii was diverted to Los Angeles after a man allegedly harassed another passenger. And on Wednesday, NORAD dispatched two F-15s to escort a Hawaii-bound jet back to Portland, Ore., because of a disruptive passenger.
And still they wonder why: Muslim woman treated like ‘terrorist’ at U.S. customs