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Passengers describe disturbance on flight

SAN FRANCISCO -- The passengers sat stunned as they watched a man walk quickly toward the front of American Airlines Flight 1561 as it was descending toward San Francisco. He was screaming and then began pounding on the cockpit door.

Within moments Sunday, a flight attendant tackled Rageh Almurisi. Authorities do not yet have a motive.

While authorities said Almurisi, 28, of Vallejo, Calif., has no clear or known ties to terrorism, the incident underscored fears that extremists may try to mount attacks to retaliate for the death last week of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Federal agents are investigating Almurisi's background. He was carrying a Yemeni passport and a California identification card, authorities said.

Almurisi went toward the cockpit door 30 minutes before the flight from Chicago was supposed to land on Sunday night, San Francisco airport police Sgt. Michael Rodriguez said. He was yelling unintelligibly as he brushed past a flight attendant.

Passenger Andrew Wai told KGO-TV 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," passenger Angelina 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.

The Boeing 737 carrying 162 people landed safely at 9:10 p.m. Almurisi was placed in police custody, as some passengers cried. -- AP

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