"Allahu Akbar" was just the opening act. After boarding, they did not take their assigned seats but dispersed to seats in the first row of first class, in the midcabin exit rows and in the rear--the exact configuration of the 9/11 execution teams. The head of the group, seated closest to the cockpit, and two others asked for a seatbelt extension, kept on board for obese people. A heavy metal buckle at the end of a long strap, it can easily be used as a lethal weapon. The three men rolled them up and placed them on the floor under their seats. And lest this entire incident be written off as simple cultural ignorance, a frightened Arabic-speaking passenger pulled aside a crew member and translated the imams' suspicious conversations, which included angry denunciations of Americans, furious grumblings about U.S. foreign policy, Osama Bin Laden and "killing Saddam."
Predictably, these imams and their attorneys now suggest that another passenger who penned a frantic note of warning and slipped it to a flight attendant was somehow a hysterical Islamophobe. Let us remember that but for their performance at the gate this passenger might never have noticed these men or their behavior on board, much less have the slightest clue as to their religion or political passions. Of course, that was the point of the shouting. According to the police report, yet another alarmed passenger who frequently travels to the Middle East described a conversation with one of the imams. The 31-year-old Egyptian expressed fundamentalist Muslim views, and stated the he would go to whatever measures necessary to obey all the tenets set out in the Koran.
Today, [Muslim American Society] Executive Director Mahdi Bray says his organization wants more than an apology. He wants to "hit [US Airways] where it hurts, the pocketbook," and, joined by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), will seek compensation for the imams, civil and federal monetary sanctions, and new, sweeping legislation that will extract even bigger penalties for airlines that engage in "racial and religious profiling." An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is under way. Not incidentally, it is the "fatwa department" of MAS that pushed for segregated taxi lines that would permit Muslim cab drivers at the Minneapolis airport to reject passengers carrying alcohol.
Dec 6, 2006
Allahu Akbar! A scam!
Debra Burlingame, sister ister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, the pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Says the six imams knew their behavior would arouse suspicions among passengers from the moment they arrived at the gate to board US Airways flight 300.