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Flight 63 passenger: Suspect 'seemed possessed'

Kwame James
Kwame James was aboard the American Airlines flight that was forced to land after a struggle with a passenger who is suspected of trying to light explosives  

(CNN) -- Kwame James was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 63 when it made an emergency landing in Boston, on its way to Miami from Paris, after a passenger was subdued. Authorities said the man tried to ignite explosives that were hidden in his shoes.

CNN's Miles O'Brien talked to James after the passengers of Flight 63 were allowed to continue on from Boston to Miami.

O'BRIEN: The tales those passengers have told are harrowing, to say the least. We've caught up with a passenger who was involved in subduing that suspect on that flight from Paris to Miami. Kwame James joins us now from Miami.

Welcome to the program, sir. Tell us where you were sitting and what you saw.

JAMES: Well, I was about 10 rows ahead of all that happened. And I looked back and there was just a whole melee going on. At first I thought someone was having a seizure or something. But then a flight attendant approached me and said, "We need some help."

So I ran back there and we started wrestling with him -- me and about three or four other guys -- and he was just, I mean, unbelievably strong. We held him down and then eventually a doctor came and gave him an injection -- to try to subdue him and stuff. And we pretty much had to tie him up with belts and everything we could get our hands on to tie someone up.

O'BRIEN: How many people were involved in subduing him, Mr. James? And, as I understand it, you're a professional basketball player. I assume you have a little bit of height. For you to say it was difficult to subdue him, I suspect he must have been a very powerful person.

JAMES: Yes, I would say he was about 6-4, 220. And I'm about 6-8, 220 to 225, and it took me and three or four other guys just to hold him down. He almost seemed possessed.

O'BRIEN: Did you hear him say anything before, during or after this whole incident?

JAMES: When we got him kind of calmed down, we -- me and the other guys -- asked him a couple questions like, "Why this?" and all that stuff. And he told us, "We'll all see."

O'BRIEN: "We'll all see," is what he said?


O'BRIEN: Kind of an ominous statement. Did you have any way of confirming, one way or another, if, in fact, he had his shoes rigged up in some way that they might contain explosives?

JAMES: I really couldn't speculate on that. I really don't know. I just knew that they took the shoes away and, you know, you could smell that something was in the air that was burning or something. But I couldn't tell you what it was. I didn't really get to see it.

O'BRIEN: People's reactions on that flight are commendable, to say the least. Was there much time to think about it, or were you all just sort of operating, if you will, on auto pilot?

JAMES: There definitely wasn't any time to think. It was kind of like, is this really happening? Then, yes, it's happening. And do something. In that order, really. So -- I mean, there was an Italian guy, who there was no fear in. And he was one of the first guys to jump on him and hold him down. Then we came and started wrestling him to really hold him down.

So a lot of people showed a lot of bravery, and even the people that didn't help out physically, they just remained calm. That really kept the situation under control.

O'BRIEN: Do you have any idea of the suspect's nationality?

JAMES: No, I couldn't tell you. I've heard through the grapevine he had a British passport, but I couldn't tell you his nationality.

O'BRIEN: All right. Finally, I assume you were a bit concerned when you got on the plane given all that is going on in the world. Are you reluctant to get back on another airliner?

JAMES: Actually, I was in route to Trinidad to see my family and my girlfriend. So, yes and no. You know, I have a lot of people that I love and that I want to see. So, I almost to have to get back on a plane, and I can't let this affect me as far as traveling and stuff. I play basketball, so I do a lot of traveling as it is, anyway.

O'BRIEN: All right. Kwame James, thank you very much for joining us from Miami.


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