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November 28, 2006
Hardly Innocent

We have experienced the birth of a new phrase in victimology -- flying while Muslim. The six imams kicked off of a US Air flight here in Minneapolis have gone on tour with this phrase at the ready, doing a "pray-in" at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington DC yesterday. However, details from the airline and its other passengers point towards a much different conclusion, one that understandably worried all involved:

Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix.

"I was suspicious by the way they were praying very loud," the gate agent told the Minneapolis Police Department.

Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.

And here's some information that the national news media seems to have missed -- the men sat in seats not assigned to them, including the first-class seats that the imams claimed to have acquired through an upgrade:

The imams who claimed two first-class seats said their tickets were upgraded. The gate agent told police that when the imams asked to be upgraded, they were told no such seats were available. Nevertheless, the two men were seated in first class when removed.

That would normally be enough to get any flight delayed while the seating arrangements got straightened out, especially if passengers deliberately take seats other than those assigned to them. However, the men kept interfering with the boarding process by going back and forth to talk amongst each other. Their seating pattern -- again, not that assigned by the airline -- positioned them at every egress point from the aircraft.

And those seat-belt extenders? Once they received them from the flight attendants, the imams put them under their seats, and not on the seat belts that purportedly would not fit them. Anyone who saw that would understandably wonder why the imams requested them in the first place, especially the flight crew, which has primary responsibility for flight security.

Small wonder, then, that US Air kicked them off the flight. Two pilots from other airlines confirmed that they would have done the same thing under the same circumstances. One pilot indicated that the repositioning of the group within the plane has been identified as a terrorist probe technique.

The imams did not intend on conducting a terrorist attack. Instead, they have conducted an attack on American security protocols, first by staging this ridiculous event to heighten their status as victims, and second to expose the kind of activities that airlines view as suspicious. In doing so, they have created an environment where the airlines will second-guess their own security procedures, becoming hypersensitive to political correctness instead of focusing on suspicious behaviors. The imams will have made us all less safe if their act becomes a hit.

Unfortunately, members of Congress seem more intent on pandering to the victimology rather than supporting the airlines for doing their job. Sheila Jackson-Lee and newly-elected Muslim Keith Ellison both took the time to acknowledge how humiliating it had to be for the six men ejected from the flight, rather than how stressful it must have been for the passengers and crew of the US Air flight that the imams used to gain their notoriety. I guess they figure that it's better to be sorry than safe.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 28, 2006 6:13 AM

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