Yazeed Mohammed A. Abunayyan's 21-year-old cousin, Fahad Alsubaie, told the Mail Tribune of Oregon that he tried to stop his cousin from smoking the electronic cigarette but he refused. "I was going to ride back with him, just to make sure he was safe... they didn't want us to sit together. When they asked him to stop the cigarette, he just went crazy, I couldn't stop him," he said. Alsubaie says his cousin, who was en route to visit his ill mother in Saudi Arabia, is mentally disturbed.
Helen Kallenbach, a director at Sonoma State University, told the paper that Abunayyan started as an exchange student at the school's language institute last fall, adding that he was "very sweet" but a "disturbed young man."
By Nigel Duara, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A teenager on a flight from Portland to Houston who caused a ruckus by swinging his fist at an attendant and praising Osama bin Laden as the flight turned around was indicted Wednesday on charges of interfering with the jetliner's crew.
He was identified as 19-year-old Yazeed Mohammed A. Abunayyan.
Ashland police believe he is the Saudi Arabian teenager who led police on a slow-speed chase in the Southern Oregon town on Sunday, ramming two police cars and nearly hitting a pedestrian. He was accused of drunken driving and assaulting an officer. He was released on bail Monday.
On Tuesday night, the Continental flight he was on returned to Portland, where he was arrested.
The indictment said he interfered with a flight attendant and a flight crew member, "specifically by refusing to stop smoking or relinquish an electronic cigarette at the request of the member or attendant, yelling profanities and swinging his fist at the flight attendant."
Abunayyan also hit or attempted to hit several passengers and spoke or sung about Osama bin Laden and his hatred of women, the indictment said.
Asked whether the FBI considers him a terrorism threat, spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele noted that the indictment was on interfering charges, not terrorism.
Electronic cigarettes use batteries to heat a liquid nicotine solution to create a vapor for inhaling.