HONOLULU – Anil Uskanli, who authorities say inspired so much fear among flight attendants on a Hawaii-bound jet fighter jets were scrambled to escort the plane, released a series of possible red flags at the Los Angeles International Airport for the flight took.
Uskanli, 25, from Turkey, is charged with interfering with a flight crew and was ordered Monday by a federal judge in Honolulu to undergo a competency evaluation to ensure he understands the legal proceedings surrounding the felony charges with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
He bought his ticket about midnight at the airport and went through the security check, but opened up a door that leads to an airport ramp around 2:45 a.m. Friday, airport police said.
He smelled of alcohol, but he was not drunk enough to be arrested for public intoxication, so police cited and released him.
Uksanli the boarding pass was confiscated, and he ran to a public area of the airport, police said. He got a boarding pass for the flight and went through the security check again.
Even though he was traveling to Hawaii, he had no checked or hand luggage other than a laptop, a phone, and items in his pocket, according to an FBI criminal complaint.
Before the start, he was sitting in a first-class seat and had to be asked several times to move to his economy class seat near the back of the plane, the complaint said.
During the six-hour flight, Uskanli had his head wrapped in a blanket and tried to get to the front of the plane.
And then he put his laptop on a drink cart and a flight attendant had used to block him, flight attendants were afraid of the computer, may contain explosives — ask the captain to start the bomb-threat procedures.
Two Hawaii National Guard fighter jets were scrambled to escort the plane to Honolulu on the last leg of her journey, and Uskanli was arrested when it landed.
His intentions were unknown, and the judge ordered Uskanli back from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland to undergo competency assessment.
Federal prosecutor Peter Wolff said he requested the evaluation for Uskanli partly as a result of the actions described in the criminal complaint and because of comments Uskanli made that Wolff refused to describe. Competency evaluations to assess whether or not the defendants can understand and participate in the court.
It is not customary for the police to notify an airline if someone opens a door to a restricted area, such as Uskanli did, Los Angeles airport police spokesman Rob Pedregon said.
“If he is a danger, we would not have ever let him go,” he said.
Because Uskanli had walked into the restricted area at the airport and he was deemed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, members of the crew helped him on the plane with the help of a wheelchair, the complaint said.
American Airlines spokesman Ross said Feinstein Uskanli requested the wheelchair at the counter, went through security and to the gate for the flight.
Flight attendants assisted Uskanli at the door of the plane, the complaint said.
Passengers told the FBI that Uskanli on the flight talked about the fact that a famous actor, and pounded on the walls of a toilet after someone opened the toilet door which he had left unlocked.
The flight attendants feared that his laptop because they are not aware of “laptop computers may pose a new threat to aircraft security, because they can contain explosives that are not by airport screening measures,” the complaint said.
After the captain started with the bomb threat procedures, flight attendants barricaded Uskanli laptop with crew bags. An off-duty police sat with him for the rest of the flight, the complaint said.
No explosives were found after the plane landed. FBI agents then interviewed Uskanli.
“When I asked him if he ever terrorist thoughts, he replied,” We all have those ideas,'” an agent wrote in a statement.
The agent asked Uskanli later on the terrorist thoughts. In response, he made a gun shape with his fingers and pretended to shoot her, the agent wrote.
“He then did a gesture to simulate a cutting motion in the direction of my neck,” the agent said.
He told another agent, “I will kill her, for the next day and myself,” according to the court documents.
The complaint said that he consented to a urine test and field sobriety tests.
The urine was presumptively positive for benzodiazepine, a tranquilizer, and the field tests indicated the possible use of stimulants or cannabis, the complaint said.
Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles and David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.