North Carolina woman assaults air marshal, threatens to stab everyone aboard United Airlines flight


FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA – A North Carolina woman was charged after she assaulted an air marshal on board a flight that landed at Virginia’s Dulles International Airport on Saturday. The air marshal stopped her while she was trying to enter the plane’s lavatory with a lighter after previously being warned by the flight crew. 

The woman, Dana Ghazi Mustafa, was on board a United Airlines flight from Frankfurt, Germany. Flight attendants on board the aircraft were alerted that a flight lavatory smoke detector had been activated in the air, and Mustafa was found in the bathroom.

They told her that smoking on board aircraft is prohibited by federal regulations, and she was asked to return to her seat, which she did according to court records.

After being seated, Mustafa started to cry and told flight attendants she was enroute home to see her family, but that they had died in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver. Flight attendants allowed her to move to another seat in order to make her feel more comfortable.

After she was moved to her new seat, she allegedly punched the TV monitor on the seatback in front of her, and threw a coin at the bulkhead of the aircraft.

She was later seen walking toward the back of the aircraft while striking the flint of her lighter.

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A federal air marshal aboard the plane saw Mustafa with the lighter, and said in a sworn affidavit that she also smelled of alcohol.

Flight attendants intercepted her and tried to stop her from entering the lavatory with the lighter, however she pushed the attendants and attempted to shut the door.

She also fought back against both air marshals who were on board the plane who were trying to restrain her and handcuff her. Mustafa repeatedly kicked one of the marshals in the shins.

She was eventually restrained and handcuffed and seated next to the air marshals, who found a half-empty liter of Absolut vodka inside her open bag. They said that Mustafa complained that she was “allowed to drink my duty-free bottle of vodka on my previous flight.”

Mustafa threatened to stab the air marshal and said:

“I’m going to stab everyone on the plane then kill myself. I’m Palestinian! That’s how we get down,” according to court filings.

She is charged with assaulting a federal officer and faces a maximum penalty of eight years in prison if convicted.

She appeared in federal court on Monday, where she was released on bond, according to federal officials. A preliminary hearing will be heard on Tuesday.

Let’s not forget about what happened in the air back in January.

That’s when a man with “law enforcement experience” was traveling on an airplane and was able to assist in handling an unruly passenger.

The deranged male passenger was identified as 28-year-old Matthew Dingley, a New York resident.  He was reportedly sitting in the second row of a United Airlines Express flight from Dulles International Airport in D.C. to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

 When the plane was close to landing, Dingley apparently started acting “erratic” and making other passengers nervous.

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For reasons not yet known, he got up and charged towards to cockpit door, banging his fists against it.

During the banging, a pilot announced, “Alright [flight] 4965, just for your advise, we have an unruly passenger in the back.  We’ll monitor the situation, let you know if anything changes.”

A female flight attendant approached him to attempt to calm him down and have him return to his seat.  Dingley reportedly attacked her, punching her several times.

Mike Egbert, another passenger on the flight, spoke to reporters after the incident.  “This guy was in a full sprint,” he said, “right up to the cockpit, hits the cockpit, starts banging on it.” 

Egbert described the flight attendant as “A slight woman, petite, and this guy was clocking her.”

At that time, the man with apparent law enforcement experience, as well as other passengers, came to the flight attendant’s aid.  The passengers were able to get Dingley restrained and the flight safely landed without further incident.

Once police attempted to take custody of Dingley, however, that changed.

Officers with the Port Authority Police approached the plane utilizing the portable metal stairs that roll up to the plane, presumably so they didn’t have to walk an in-custody Dingley through the airport terminal full of travelers. 


As soon as the door to the plane opened, Dingley charged towards the unsuspecting officers, causing more than one of them to fall down the stairs. 

Other officers arrived to assist.  Egbert got a good look at the arrest as well, which apparently didn’t come easily for police. 

“He [Dingley] picks up a police officer, throws the police officer,” Egbert told reporters.

He added, “If he did actually get into that cockpit lord knows what would have happened.”

The flight attendant was taken to a hospital for her injuries suffered during the attack and was released Sunday evening.

One officer suffered four broken ribs when he was shoved off of the stairs. 

Five other officers reported minor injuries. 


Dingley wasn’t said to have any serious injuries, but his mugshot shows several scrapes and bruises on his face.

Dingley was eventually arrested and charged with aggravated assault, criminal trespassing, resisting arrest and interfering with transportation.  He was taken to the Essex County Correctional Facility.

Egbert said the flight attendant was a hero for her attempts to intervene in Dingley’s attempts to get the cockpit door open.

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North Carolina woman assaults air marshal, threatens to stab everyone aboard United Airlines flight


An airline spokesperson released a statement regarding the incident. 

It read, “CommutAir flight 4965, operating as United Express from Washington Dulles to Newark, landed without incident and was met by local law enforcement due to a disruptive passenger.

Our primary concern is always to ensure the safety of all customers and crew and we are cooperating with authorities. We express our gratitude for the quick reaction of our passengers and crew who responded during this incident.”

Reports show that Dingley was arrested in 2016 in North Carolina after leading police on a car chase and spent a year in jail at that time.  In New York in 2017, he was arrested for DWI after crashing his car on the highway. 

Again, no motive has been established for the outburst in the plane or the attack on the flight attendant and police.

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