Nothing to see here. A Turk steals a plane, is pursued by fighter jets, took off running after he landed on a highway, but what’s the big deal? Even if he is a Muslim, which of course is almost certain, that doesn’t mean he is a jihadist. Maybe he’s just a crazy kid, a joyrider! After all, when have jihadists ever caused any trouble with airplanes? What are you, some kind of Islamophobe?
A pilot who allegedly stole a Cessna plane from a Canadian flight school and was pursued for hours across the Midwest by fighter jets, was taken into custody after he landed on a Missouri highway late today and took off running, an FBI spokesman said.
The pilot landed the single engine Cessna 172 on U.S. Highway 60 in Ellsinore, Mo., at approximately 9:50 p.m. ET, and was caught by Missouri State Highway Patrol officers, FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said.
The pilot was identified as Yavuz Berke, formerly known as Adam Leon, a 31-year-old naturalized Canadian citizen who was born in Turkey, Kolko said.
The plane had been escorted by two F-16 fighter jets since shortly after it crossed into U.S. airspace from Canada, and the pilot did not respond to multiple requests that he establish communications with ground controllers.
He didn’t respond to requests. He was chased by fighter jets. Nothing to be concerned about here. Move along.
UPDATE: ABC says that this incident had nothing to do with terrorism, and that the pilot was trying to commit suicide by fighter jet: “Pilot of Stolen Cessna Wanted U.S. Fighter Jets to Shoot Him Down: Trooper Said Yavuz Berke, Now in Custody, Wanted U.S. Military to Kill Him,” by Lisa Stark, Luis Martinez, and Sarah Netter for ABC News, April 7 (thanks to all who sent this in):
The Canadian man who led fighter jets on a chase across six states Monday flew his stolen plane into the United States, in hopes the military would shoot him down and kill him, according to a Missouri state trooper who apprehended the rogue pilot.
Missouri state trooper Justin Watson told “Good Morning America” today that 31-year-old Yavuz Berke, formerly known as Adam Leon, wanted to commit suicide, but didn’t have the courage to do it himself.
“His idea was to fly the aircraft into the United States where he would be shot down,” Watson said. “He stated several times that at any time he thought he was going to be shot down.”
And he came close several times, Watson said.
Instead, Berke landed the single-engine Cessna 172 on U.S. Highway 60 in Ellsinore, Mo., at 9:50 p.m. ET. He made his way to a convenience store where a clerk noticed him and called police. He was found drinking Gatorade, seemingly relieved that his ordeal was over.
“He actually seemed fairly happy that it came to a good end,” Watson said. “He didn’t seem to be down in spirits or anything like that.”
The U.S. military decided early on that Berke, a naturalized Canadian citizen who was born in Turkey, did not have any terroristic intentions, but was unclear at the time exactly what his plans were. As he flew over Madison, Wis., the state capitol building was evacuated as a precaution….
This would be more reassuring if officials didn’t always rule out terrorism when evaluating strange incidents involving Muslims engaged in questionable activity, but at this point there is nothing to go on to determine whether or not Berke was engaged in some kind of dry run or some other exercise on behalf of the jihad.
It’s also interesting to note that CNN’s story (thanks to Talkin’ Jihad Blues) identifies him as Adam Leon and never gives his Turkish name or says he was born in Turkey. This despite the fact that other stories have said that he was “formerly” known as Adam Leon.