If you listen to the passengers and crew who flew on American Airlines Flight 1561 last weekend, there's no doubt about what happened on their harrowing trip: A Yemeni man shrieking "Allahu akbar!" at the top of his lungs more than 30 times rushed the cockpit door twice intending to take down the plane and kill everyone on board.
The clammy, sweaty lone male passenger exhibited classic symptoms of what Middle East scholar and author Daniel Pipes has dubbed "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" -- a seemingly random outbreak of threatening behavior or violence by a hysterical Muslim adherent who had not previously exhibited signs of Islamic radicalization.
It took at least four men to tackle and restrain Rageh Ahmed Mohammed al-Murisi. "There was no question in everybody's mind that he was going to do something," passenger Angelina Marty told the San Francisco Chronicle.
And no, that "something" did not mean enlisting his fellow flyers in a midair flash mob performance of the "Hallelujah Chorus."
Not everyone was so grounded in reality.
Bleeding-heart sympathizers seriously speculated that al-Murisi had simply mistaken clearly marked lavatory doors for the clearly marked cockpit door
(because, you know, it's normal to shout "God is great" repeatedly just before relieving yourself as your plane is about to land).