Society

Southwest Airlines Passenger: "You're All Going to Die"

| by Michael Allen

“You’re all going to die,” Ali Reza Shahsavari screamed at passengers aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 3683 on Tuesday afternoon.

“You’re all going to hell. Allahu Akbar,” translated as "God is great" in Arabic.

Federal authorities arrested Shahsavari onboard the Boeing 737 after the pilots made an emergency landing Amarillo, Texas at 3:30 p.m. Shahsavari is being held in the Randall County jail on a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew.

None of the 136 passengers and five crew members on the flight from Los Angeles to Kansas City was hurt, said Brad Hawkins, spokesman for Dallas-based Southwest.

Police said the incident began with Shahsavari arguing with another passenger. The flight crew separated the men, said Amarillo police Cpl. Jerry Neufeld.

Shahsavari went into a bathroom and yelled obscenities from the rear of the plane, according to passenger Doug Oerding: “All of us guys were looking at him like, ‘Are we going to have to do something?’”

Amarillo Aviation Director Patrick Rhodes said an emergency call was placed about 3:30 p.m. to the control tower in Amarillo. The caller initially reported a male passenger was attempting to break into the cockpit, Rhodes said. Amarillo police said the call came from the cockpit.

“He was being disruptive and unruly on the flight, but he was not specifically trying to break into the cockpit,” Rhodes said.

When the plane reached a gate at the airport, police boarded it and arrested Shahsavari without incident. Neufeld said: “He was waiting at the door when we went in. He cooperated with officers.”

FBI Special Agent Mark White, based in Dallas, said the event did not appear to be an act of terrorism. He described Shahsavari as a U.S. citizen who might have experienced an episode of mental illness: “It sounded like he sort of lost control of himself."

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Sarah Horowitz said investigators were still gathering information on the incident Tuesday evening.