An Israeli was detained yesterday after attempting to break into the cockpit of Delta Airlines flight 86, en route from JFK International Airport to Tel Aviv. The current thinking of local police is that the 22-year-old man, Itay Atmor, suffered an anxiety attack about 2 hours after take-off, and that this was not an attempt to hijack the airplane.
Eyewitnesses said Atmor ran up to the cockpit door and started beating on it with his fists. Fellow passengers and crew members tackled him and bound him with seat belts. The aircraft, a Boeing 767, landed at Logan Airport, in Boston, where Atmor was detained for questioning. After additional security checks, the airplane took off again for Tel Aviv, without the Israeli.
"A very nice but slightly hyperactive young man was seated next to me," said passenger Ze'ev Sinosia, an Israeli living in Santiago. "At first he was very lucid and polite, introduced himself by name, said he was from Rosh Pina, and asked me about myself. "He asked for water, and when the flight attendant asked him to wait until after take-off, he became very stressed, started talking about reincarnation and 6,000 years, and then suddenly got up and walked to the front of the plane," Sinosia said.
Another passenger, Shalev Julio, 28, from Haifa, said he was one of those who helped flight attendants take control of the man. "I was sitting in the front of the business-class section, right by the cockpit door. A man ran up to it and started beating it and shouting. We tried taking him aside but he started really attacking us, and we had to force him to the floor and tie him up with whatever we could find."
Julio continued: "We landed at Boston on an emergency footing and were met by the local police and FBI, literally with their guns drawn. We calmed them down and then they boarded the airplane, questioned some of the passengers and took him away."
In a statement, the airline said that "Delta Flight 86 en route from New York to Tel Aviv was diverted to landing in Boston due to inappropriate conduct by one of the passengers. The airplane was met by local law enforcement officials, and the passenger was detained for questioning. The Delta flight continued to Tel Aviv with all other passengers on board."
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