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Saudi passenger disrupts flight bound for Indianapolis

12:24 PM, Oct 6, 2011   |    comments
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INDIANAPOLIS - Federal authorities are probing the actions of a Saudi Arabian man who tried to get into the cockpit of an American Airlines flight to here.

Indianapolis Airport police said Abdulaziz Mubarak Alshammari, 20, was pulled away from the cabin door by another passenger a half hour before Flight 1936 from New York to Indianapolis International Airport landed at about 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Alshammari, who said he is a student at the University of Indianapolis, appeared confused when flight attendants and police questioned him, according to a police report. Investigators photocopied a note Alshammari wrote in Arabic while on the plane.

Scott Hall, a spokesman for the University of Indianapolis, said the school has no record of Alshammari being a student there.

Passengers said Alshammari walked to the front of the plane, then to the rear, before strolling again to the front. When he got there, he appeared to be looking for a door and started tugging on the locked cabin door.

Capt. James K. Kolostyak heard someone trying to open the cabin door and saw the interior door light come on, according to the report. He called a flight attendant on the plane's phone system to ask what was happening.

The attendant was at the back of the plane serving passengers at the time. A passenger in seat 4B, Rodney Bailey approached Alshammari, grabbed his arm and led him back to his seat, 13B.

Bailey asked Alshammari if he were looking for the bathroom and Alshammari shook his head.

Airport police officer Jonathan Brown talked to Alshammari after the plane landed and said Alshammarri, who spoke little English, didn't quite understand what he had done.

Alshammari said he flew from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Doha, Qatar, to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York before heading to Indianapolis.

Police contacted The Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center and the FBI Terrorist Screening Center to run checks on the passenger. Records indicated Alshammari was not on a terrorist watch list nor wanted on criminal warrants.

No charges were filed.

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John Tuohy, The Indianapolis Star

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