There has been scant coverage of this incident. No big media, no mug shots, nothing. But it’s a big story. Punching out flight attendants and threatening to blow up the plane is terrorism.
“FBI: Queens Man Punched Flight Attendant, Threatened To Blow Up Plane” CBS New York, October 17, 2015
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Queens man has been charged after he allegedly punched a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane during a flight from New York City to South Florida.
A passenger on a flight from New York City to South Florida was arrested Thursday night after investigators say he sprinted down the aisle of the plane, punched a flight attendant in the face and threatened to blow up the plane.
Alija Kucuk, 29, of Middle Village in Queens, N.Y., is facing federal charges of interfering with a flight attendant and threatening to destroy an aircraft. He is jailed in Palm Beach County pending a bond hearing Monday in federal court in West Palm Beach.
Kucuk was aboard JetBlue Airways Flight 153 from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Palm Beach International Airport on Thursday night, investigators said.
Around 8 p.m., just after the flight leveled off after its ascent, FBI agents said a male flight attendant was preparing food and drinks in the rear of the plane.
The attendant, Whitney Rolle, was also monitoring the aisle as he worked, authorities said.
“Rolle observed Alija Kucuk run down the single aisle of the aircraft and push two flight attendants on his way to Whitney Rolle,” FBI Special Agent Robert McGuire wrote in his report.
The attendant tried to get Kucuk to calm down by asking what was the matter with him but Kucuk pushed him into a door and “punched” the victim in the face, witnesses told the agent.
“The altercation that transpired between Alija Kucuk and Whitney Rolle included verbal epithets and racial slurs by Alija Kucuk. During this time, Alija Kucuk also yelled … he ‘would blow up the plane,'” agents wrote.
The flight attendant was able to restrain Kucuk and he was detained for the rest of the flight. He was arrested when the flight landed in South Florida.
Court records offer no information about a possible motive and FBI officials declined to comment on the case.
Attempts to contact possible relatives of Kucuk for comment were unsuccessful. One man hung up the phone when asked if he was a family member and voicemail messages left with other possible relatives were not returned late Friday.
The Federal Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Kucuk during a brief court appearance Friday but office policy prohibits lawyers from commenting on cases.