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Would you say that trying to open the cockpit door on a plane is a crime?

If you attempt to open the cockpit door on a plane, is it a crime?
If you attempt to open the cockpit door on a plane, is it a crime?

Apparently that might depend on what your definition of a crime is!

Read these details concerning an American Airlines flight heading from New York's JFK airport to Indianapolis, and at the end see if you are surprised by the result.

  1. Abdulaziz Al-Shammari, a Saudi Arabian citizen, was on a flight from New York's JFK Airport to Indianapolis. He had arrived in New York from Saudi Arabia by way of Qatar.
  2. Al-Shammari reportedly had paced up and down the aisle of the jet before finally approaching the cockpit door. According to witnesses in the cabin and the pilot behind the closed door he had then tried to open it.
  3. Another passenger approached, took Al-Shammari by the arm and took him back to his seat. When he asked Al-Shammari if he was looking for the bathroom, Al-Shammari shook his head.
  4. After landing police confiscated a note that Al-Shammari had written on the plane in Arabic (this is not a crime but the contents once translated may have indicated the intent to commit one).
  5. Questioned on the ground Al-Shammari was said to speak little English although he did speak enough to answer the other passengers question about the bathroom on the plane.
  6. During questioning Al-Shammari once again understood enough English to relay the fact that he was a student at the University of Indianapolis.
  7. A University of Indianapolis spokesman when asked said that they have no record of Al-Shammari being a student.
  8. Because Alshammari did not currently appear on any terrorist watch list he was released with no charges filed.

Summary: A passenger attempts to open a cockpit door on a commercial jetliner. He then lied about his background but was not arrested simply because he did not currently appear on any terrorist watch list? Lovely!

And if he appears on any future lists will hindsight be 20-20?


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