America West Flight 90 -- Nov 19, 1999. In this pre-September 11th incident, two passengers speaking Arabic roamed the plane without permission and attempted to enter the cockpit in what has been described by the 9/11 commission in their report as a dry run. "Students" Muhammed al-Qudhaieen and Hamdan al-Shalawi were placed in custody and removed from the flight. Bomb-sniffing dogs were brought to search the plane. The airline was sued for discrimination, but the case was dismissed.
Northwest Flight 327 -- Jun 29, 2004. Described by flight marshals as a terrorist dry run, thirteen men of Syrian descent changed seats, congregated in the aisles, used the bathrooms excessively, appeared nervous, and behaved in a strange manner long enough to draw attention and concern from fellow passengers. Air marshals on the plane instructed the flight crew to radio ahead for law enforcement to meet the plane when it landed in Los Angeles.
US Airways Flight 300 -- November 20, 2006. The infamous case of the flying imams, who allegedly changed seats in order to take control of every entry and exit route from the plane, ignored their assigned seats, requested unnecessary seat belt extensions, and disrupted the flight. The unused seat belt extenders were left lying on the airplane floor. Hmmm. Webbed strap belts with metal heads attached -- why would anyone be concerned about that? Who worries about customers acting strangely who make obviously unnecessary and unusual special requests?
The imams were removed from the plane but cried discrimination after the fact. They sued the airline and received an undisclosed settlement. CAIR and the imams declared victory.
AirTran Flight 175 -- Jan 1, 2009. According to an article published by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, nine Muslims traveling to an Islamic conference were removed from the plane after two members of the group allegedly engaged in a debate about the safest location to sit in the event of a bombing on the plane. The conversation alarmed other passengers, who alerted the flight crew and caused the plane to be diverted. According to Doug Hagmann in the Canada Free Press:
[N]one of the remaining 95 passengers made it to their ultimate destinations on time, AirTran refunded some tickets and made other booking arrangements due to the incident, which cost the airline dearly in time, money, and passenger goodwill.
A press release from AirTran found at EuroInvestor.co.uk incredibly reported that AirTran actually rewarded the nine Muslims who disrupted the flight, saying:
The airline has refunded the air fares of the nine passengers detained for questioning, has agreed to reimburse the passengers for expenses incurred by taking another airline and has also offered to transport the passengers home to Washington, DC, free of charge.
So let me get this straight: the nine Muslims who caused the flight delay and scared other passengers profited from their misconduct? Their airfare was refunded and they got a free flight home? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me...is this a great country, or what?
United flight 22 -- September 28, 2009. According to the KTLA.com, two men of apparent Middle Eastern descent were removed from a flight at LAX, and the flight was delayed while the bomb squad searched the plane. An article in the LA Times reported the incident as follows:
A law enforcement source said at least one of the men ran into a restroom on the plane and appeared to hide while the New York-bound jet was taxiing on the runway, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing.
AirTran 297 -- Nov 17, 2009. A group of ethnic passengers used electronic devices on tarmac preparing for takeoff, changed seats, moved around, ignored flight attendants' instructions, and caused flight delay as the plane returned to terminal.
UA 227 -- Dec 9, 2009. A group of passengers believed to be of Middle Eastern descent changed seats and allegedly moved other passengers' luggage at the gate while the plane prepared for departure, prompting their removal from the flight and bomb-sniffing dogs to check the baggage.Read the whole thing.
That's 7 examples--4 of them just this year and 3 in the last 4 months.
There are still lots of questions left unanswered amidst claims of bogus information--but the questions need to be answered and those answers need to be made public.
Leonard concludes that there are 2 potential motives for what is happening--
Two possibilities that come immediately to mind are either that these incidents are orchestrated as a ploy to create a scenario to litigate for profit like the imams from US Airways Flight 300 -- or something more sinister is in the works. In the aftermath of Fort Hood, can we afford to ignore warning signs of abnormal or pattern behavior any longer?Time to get busy with those answers.
Technorati Tag: AirTran 297 and UA 227 and Terrorism.