Man with Arab-sounding name stops flight -- by shaving topless

When, in this post-9/11 world, we hear a story about a plane making an unscheduled landing due to the actions of a man with a name that sounds Middle Eastern, most of us instantly think: Where was he hiding the explosives, and did he burn his balls trying to light them?

But the story of Muhammad Abu Tahir, 47, of Glen Allen, Virginia, isn't nearly so simple.

According to the U.S. Attorneys Office in Colorado, Tahir did indeed prompt an AirTran Airways flight to make an unscheduled landing in Colorado Springs on January 8. But his weapon wasn't a bomb. It was weirdness -- like refusing to come out of the plane's bathroom while he shaved with his shirt off.

According to the affidavit supporting criminal charges Tahir will face at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Byron Rogers U.S. Courthouse, the flight in question was traveling from Atlanta to San Francisco. En route, Tahir "became upset and disruptive after flight attendants refused to serve him additional alcoholic drinks;" he'd already downed five mini-bottles of wine.

His response? He locked himself in the bathroom.

A few minutes later, Tahir opened the door, but only to put his shoes and socks outside. Nice! More time passed before the door opened again, revealing that Tahir was shaving without his shirt on. At that point, a flight attendant suggested he leave the can. His response? He yelled at the attendant, claiming "that he was being disrespected."

Which would have been totally understandable if everyone else on the plane was shaving topless, too. No word about that, though.

Shortly thereafter, the flight's captain asked the crew to get a passenger to help them dislodge this passenger from the bathroom -- but Tahir fended off all efforts and stayed put. Flummoxed, they used beverage carts to create a barrier to the cockpit and armed themselves with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, in case he spontaneously (or not so spontaneously) combusted. Meanwhile, the captain made for Colorado Springs, where Tahir was arrested.

For this bizarre display, Tahir could face up to twenty years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, not counting restitution to AirTrans. But at least he got a chance to join the semi-nude shaving version of the Mile High Club.

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