Here is what is alleged of him. Yazeed Mohammed A. Abunayyan, of Saudi Arabia, was on a flight from Portland to Houston. He was smoking an electronic cigarette while on board and was told to stop. He refused to stop and started “singing or speaking about Osama bin Laden and his hatred of women”.
His defense is that he suffers from a mental health condition called schizophrenia. This reminds me of the story of Ahmed Cathy Khaled who burned three US flags saying that voices told him to do so.
According to FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele, he would be brought up on interfering charges, not terrorism.
This is less of a clear cut case for terrorism that the Fort Hood shooting case. And the Obama administration wanted to downplay that as a case of workplace violence.
What benefit does the US get by downplaying acts of terrorism as anything but? Perhaps it is to keep us from panic. Or to keep us from overexaggerating every borderline case.