Gill Parker Payne was en route from Chicago to Albuquerque in December when — shortly before landing — he approached his fellow passenger and told her to take off her headscarf, according to The New York Daily News.
The 37-year-old later admitted that he ripped the garment off the unidentified woman’s head and told her: “Take it off. This is America,” according to the Department of Justice.
He pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to using force to stop the women from freely exercising her religious beliefs and now faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 (£696,000) fine.
Payne’s attack on December 11 was one of many incidents of Muslims being harassed or kicked off flights in the aftermath of the San Bernardino attacks earlier that month.