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Flight From D.C. to Ore. Diverted: 'Strange' Middle-Eastern Men Refuse Crew Instructions

"strange goings on in the back of the plane"

An Oregon-bound United Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., that was diverted to Chicago for security concerns landed early Wednesday morning in Portland after some of the passengers refused to follow crew instructions and were acting "strange."

United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson tells KGW-TV that passengers on Flight 251 from Dulles International Airport were taken off at O'Hare International Airport Tuesday evening and re-screened through security.

He says two or three passengers who had not been following crew instructions were not on board the plane when it continued to Portland International Airport. Johnson says he couldn't say whether they were detained.

NBC Chicago offers more details, however, and says passengers identified the uncooperative individuals as being of Middle-Eastern origin, and that they were verbally arguing with flight attendants as well as pacing and passing notes:

At least one of the men walked back to the area of the plane where flight attendants work, laid down and began complaining of illness. That man engaged in "some sort of altercation" with the flight attendant, a passenger said.

At one point another man, who was pacing back and forth in the aisles, also got into a "verbal altercation" with a flight attendant, according to a passenger.

KGW interviewed some of the passengers on the plane:

Passenger Cliff Robinett described it to KGW as "strange goings on in the back of the plane" for security reasons.

He said a man was lying on the floor of the plane in the back of the plane. He did not speak English and an interpreter also had difficulty translating. Robinett said a doctor on the plane also tried to assist the passenger.

He said three men got off the plane, one of them ill. No one knew what was happening at the time, including TSA officials in Chicago, he said.

Stacy Niedermeyer of Southwest Portland was on the flight with her husband and four children.

She said the men involved were of middle-Eastern descent. One of them went back to the area in the back of the plane where attendants sit. He basically 'sat down on his bottom.' Some type of heated altercation took place.

Lydia Omelchenko said the suspect passengers were "strange people." Other passengers knew something was amiss and were texting about the incident, she said.

Yesterday a U.S. Airways flight in Charlotte, NC was grounded after it was discovered a bullet struck the cabin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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