December 03, 2006

Safety on Board


From The Arizona Republic: Muslims, others protest; US Airways' removal of imams from flight called offensive

A group of about 100 Muslims gathered at Tempe Beach Park on Friday, in front of US Airways headquarters, to appeal for equal treatment and justice. ...

They were there to protest the removal last week of six imams, or Islamic spiritual leaders, five of whom live in the Valley, from a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix. The incident has drawn national attention and could result in a lawsuit against the airline. ...

A US Airways spokeswoman said the pilot "absolutely made the right call" in having the men removed from the flight last week after at least two people, including an off-duty flight attendant, complained about their behavior.

From The Washington Times: Marshals decry imams' charges

Air marshals, pilots and security officials yesterday expressed concern that airline passengers and crews will be reluctant to report suspicious behavior aboard for fear of being called "racists," after several Muslim imams made that charge in a press conference Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. ...

Federal air marshals and others yesterday urged passengers to remain vigilant to threats. ...

The imams say they were removed from the Phoenix-bound flight because they were praying quietly in the concourse. They had been in Minnesota for a conference sponsored by the North American Imams Federation.

But other passengers told police and aviation security officials a different version of the incident. They said suspicious behavior of the imams led to their eviction from the flight. The imams, they said, tested the forbearance of the passengers and flight crew in what the air marshal called a "[political correctness] probe."

"The political correctness needs to be left at the boarding gate," the marshal said. "Instilling politically correct fears into the minds of airline passengers is nothing less than psychological terrorism."

The passengers and flight crew said the imams prayed loudly before boarding; switched seating assignments to a configuration used by terrorists in previous incidents; asked for seat-belt extensions, which could be used as weapons; and shouted hostile slogans about al Qaeda and the war in Iraq.

Flight attendants said three of the six men, who did not appear to be overweight, asked for the seat-belt extensions, which include heavy metal buckles, and then threw them to the floor under their seats.

From The Washington Times: How the imams terrorized an airliner

The pilot said the airlines are not "secretly prejudiced against any nationality, religion or culture," and that the only target of profiling is passenger behavior.

"There are certain behaviors that raise the bar, and not sitting in your assigned seat raises the bar substantially," the pilot said. "Especially since we know that this behavior has been evident in suspicious probes in the past."

"Someone at US Airways made a notably good decision," said a second pilot, who also does not work for US Airways.

All links via Little Green Footballs, including: Non-Flying Imam: 9/11 Hijackers Were Not Muslims

UPDATE I -- Dec. 4: From The Examiner: Editorial: Who is walking on eggshells? (via InstaPundit)

[T]the only way to counter ideological jihad is to speak the truth: U.S. Airways did the right thing by removing these six provocateurs from the plane.

UPDATE II -- Dec. 5: From Investor's Business Daily: Tale Of Fibbing Imams.

When the story first broke, the imams denied they chanted "Allah." Yet, several witnesses in the police report say they did. The imams also claimed they were handcuffed and harassed by dogs. "Six imams. Six leaders in this country," Shahin complained. "Six scholars in handcuffs." But the police report puts the lie to both those claims, too.

Shahin also claimed that a local FBI agent pleaded with US Airways to sell the Saintly Six imams another plane ticket, telling airline reps that the government had "no problem" with the men. "Never happened," says an FBI spokesman in Minneapolis

UPDATE III -- Dec. 6: From The Washington Times: Probes dismiss imams' racism claim. (via Little Green Footballs)

Three parallel investigations into the removal of six imams from a US Airways flight last month have so far concluded that the airline acted properly, that the imams' claims they were merely praying and their eviction was racially inspired are without foundation.

UPDATE IV: From The Wall Street Journal: On a Wing and a Prayer by Debra Burlingame.

Ultimately, the most despicable aspect about the imams' behavior is that when they pierced the normally quiet hum of a passenger waiting area with shouts of "Allahu Akbar"and deliberately engaged in terrorist-associated behavior that was sure to trigger suspicion, they exploited the fear that began with the Sept. 11 attacks. The imams, experienced travelers all, counted on the security system established after 9/11 to kick in, and now they plan not only to benefit financially from the proper operation of that system but to substantially weaken it--with help from the Saudi-endowed attorneys at CAIR.

US Airways is right to stand by its flight crew. It will be both dangerous and disgraceful if the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation and, ultimately, our federal courts allow aviation security measures put in place after 9/11 to be cynically manipulated in the name of civil rights.

Posted by Forkum at December 3, 2006 06:21 PM