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Terror in the Skies -- Again?

Writer Annie Jacobsen recently found herself on what was apparently a dry run of a terrorist attack. This is an extremely compelling story that defies excerpting. Don't let my short post fool you, this is definitely worth the read.

Terror in the Skies -- Again?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin IS ALL OVER THIS

And there are some good comments you don't want to miss, including spoons asking a very tough question.


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Comments (17)

same thing happened to me o... (Below threshold)
daniel:

same thing happened to me on a continental flight from cincy to newark. smaller jet; smaller gang - JUST AS MANY HEAD-SIGNALS; EYE-GLANCES - which were responded to by actions like getting up and going to the lav. yup: on cammand.

i even went in and searched around - but found nothing.

all this happened before we even taxied to the runway.

i was praying for the courage to attack them and stop them.

i was keeping an eye on them at the gate - before boarding. they all hung out together before the flight; they all sat separately on the plane; and communicated by exchange of gestures.

when we got to the runway for takeoff, the captain announced that we had a delay: we needed to get a new bulb for an indicator light. the jet was boarded by mechanics. at that moment, another couple freaked out and demanded to deplane.

we went back to the gate, and i deplaned with them

the next day i took the same flight.

no gang of muslim men head-signaling each other.

i wasn't nervous at all.

i looked out the window at the mid-west becoming the northeast -

three mile island was right near our flight path...

that first flight landed without incident - as far as i know.

i have since wondered if in fact an air marshall didn;t really board the plane under the rue of an inidcator bulb...

one airmarshal in the cockpoit might not be enough: what if the terrorists start executing passengers?

or if they merely explode the jet over something (not into something) in mid flight?

also: at the time i thought they mught be stashing things for use by later teams...


Jacobsen had me at "... (Below threshold)
SarahW:


Jacobsen had me at "orthopedic shoe".

Does it not occur to anyone in law enforcement/homeland security, that 14 Syrian males SHOULD be inconvenienced, and have difficulty flying together?

That foreign nationals from countries hostile to the US should be ASSUMED to be terrorists unless proven otherwise?

American casinos can do without bands of Syrian troubadours, can't they, while we are at WAR?

I'm glad this story is making the rounds.
It gives folks the time to think about what they would do....

I don't think I would be as polite as Ms. Jacobsen. I would fuss. I would get up and hog the bathroom myself. If bands of swarthy men behaving oddly are going to be permitted to swarm the bathroom, I don't see why a large group of women can not pretend to be sensitive bladder multiparas with relaxed round ligaments, and interfere and interupt with whatever order the men tried to

Also, speak to the men. Be annoying. Throw off their concentration by spilling drinks on them or asking questions.

Hey, mister, what's that red book? Where are you traveling? What's in the case? DO you know that guy? etc. etc. etc.

This story's <a href="http:... (Below threshold)

This story's bustin' loose. The old media have noticed.

This story is very disturbi... (Below threshold)
Conservatrix:

This story is very disturbing indeed.

You know what really bugs me is that the stupid 9/11 commission should be focussing on issues of airline security such as the quota on how many middle eastern men can be stopped or whether security personnel can inspect orthopedic shoes.

The !@#$% comission has nothing to do with Iraq but love to spend their time talking about it while stuff like this goes on.

I must also say that I'm extremely disappointed that the Bush administration has not addressed such basic issues yet. I'm a huge hutge supporter of GWB but this kind of BS happening on airplanes is a disgrace!!!

This story is very disturbi... (Below threshold)
Conservatrix:

This story is very disturbing indeed.

You know what really bugs me is that the stupid 9/11 commission should be focussing on issues of airline security such as the quota on how many middle eastern men can be stopped or whether security personnel can inspect orthopedic shoes.

The !@#$% comission has nothing to do with Iraq but love to spend their time talking about it while stuff like this goes on.

I must also say that I'm extremely disappointed that the Bush administration has not addressed such basic issues yet. I'm a huge hutge supporter of GWB but this kind of BS happening on airplanes is a disgrace!!!

My husband pointed out some... (Below threshold)
Omni:

My husband pointed out something interesting about this story; there aren't enough air marshalls in existence to have even one on every flight, so if there were several on the flight in question, that makes it look like they were expecting trouble.

Wouldn't it make more sense to just find out BEFORE potential terrorists get on a plane whether they're carrying the makings for weapons or bombs, as opposed to sending along a bunch of marshalls and hoping they can act in time?

Dennis Miller said something along the lines of "Being aware that terrorists are from a certain ethnic group isn't profiling, it's being minimally observant." It's nice to be PC, but we need to wise up BEFORE the terrorists take advantage of being able to avoid being searched to cause another tragedy.

Here is another proof of ho... (Below threshold)
Atilio Reategui:

Here is another proof of how our 'National Security System' is all screw up. We could stop our ship from sinking in the middle of the ocean, but we do not want to hurt the shark's feelings because they could go to bed hungry. By the way thank you ACLU (animals civil liberties union)for all your time and efforts in getting rid of ten commandaments displays( like that is going to kills us or crash planes against buildings)and I guess most people on that plane was trying to remember the right order of the ten commandments during that long flight. I think the time has come that we need to react and come to the realization that this is real, and we really, but really need to do something (starting with our compadres from the ACLU) if we really have a remote feeling or desire to take our country back, of course. And for all the Kerry supporters out there, this is accurate real life experience of how our every day life will be, full of fears and pain if this Terry, Perry, Larry, Kerry, Jerry(sorry, since this guy is always changing his mind is also hard to keep track of his real name) is elected.

I hope you are joking. A s... (Below threshold)
Rex Jacobs:

I hope you are joking. A summary of this story reads like this. A family board a plane. Some foreigners eat McDonalds food and seem to need the toilet a lot. The family and others become nervous. The foreigners are investigated by the US government and turn out to be musicians.

So far, so good but then the conclusion seems to be that since the family were so nervous that the US government must have screwed up and that the foreigners were really terrorists after all and that Syrians should not be allowed to fly. Huh?!?

There are a few good points about cutlery past checkpoints and orthopedic equipment. But it seems like the writer is trying to make 'Nothing Happened!' into some sort of call to arms.

Very simple answer to this ... (Below threshold)
Bob:

Very simple answer to this - the woman who wrote the piece is a neurotic racist.

Right on, Bob. Is airport s... (Below threshold)
JKT:

Right on, Bob. Is airport security still incompetent? Probably. But that doesn't change the fact that this woman just comes off sounding like a dumb racist. "Some Arab guys got on my plane. They went to the bathroom and talked to each other. Then the plane landed safely." Wow.

Are you serious? Did you n... (Below threshold)
Dan:

Are you serious? Did you not read the whole article:


"The flight attendants made one final sweep of the cabin and strapped themselves in for landing. I began to relax. Home was in sight. Suddenly, seven of the men stood up -- in unison -- and walked to the front and back lavatories ...Again, no one approached the men. Not one of the flight attendants asked them to sit down.... I watched as the man in the yellow shirt, still in his seat, reached inside his shirt and pulled out a small red book. He read a few pages, then put the book back inside his shirt. He pulled the book out again, read a page or two more, and put it back. He continued to do this several more times.....The last man came out of the bathroom, and as he passed the man in the yellow shirt he ran his forefinger across his neck and mouthed the word 'No.' "

To place yourself in that situation and not feel threatened would give you a pulse lower than Lance Armstrong. Anyone who has flown knows that flight attendants (who fly thousands of miles a week) are very insistant that everyone sits during landing. They were obviously scared of these men.


Point is, that all of the hijackers were Arab Middle-Eastern males, therefore one would assume that it would be much harder for them to repeat the deed, but apparently it is almost easier for them than anyone else due to PC. So basically we should just brace for it to happen again because liberals would rather let innocent Americans be killed than offend someone who fits the profile of a hijacker.

The Annie Jacobsen, "Terror... (Below threshold)
ewillyb:

The Annie Jacobsen, "Terror in the Skies, Again?" story is, in fact, a NON-STORY. Woman gets on plane. Passengers stand up, talk, use bathroom. Plane lands safely without incident. The end.

Wow! What a story! Let's alert the news media. The nerve of brown-skinned people in the same musical group to want to travel together. Must be a dry-run for a terrorist attack. (sarcasm.)

Do you realize that 10s of thousands of Arabs/Muslims fly in the US every year? It happens, it's going to continue to happen as long as this is still a great and free country.

Let law enforcement do its job. There was and is absolutely no evidence that these men were anything other than a Syrian musical group.

Annie Jacobsen should be ashamed of herself for invoking 9/11 over what turned out to be a safe, incident-free airline flight. We should all be so lucky as to have all of our travel experiences turn out this way.

Seems like this story is so... (Below threshold)
mcdj:

Seems like this story is sorta falling apart...

snipped from usenet:


courtesy of the National Review:

The Syrian Wayne Newton
The man inadvertently behind a scare in the skies.

By Clinton W. Taylor

Annie Jacobsen's recent piece for WomensWallStreet.Com made waves. Her
account of flying with her family while 14 Middle Eastern passengers acted
in a threatening and apparently coordinated manner makes for a terrifying
read. Her article captures her sickening sense of both uncertainty and
inevitability as what might possibly have been the next 9/11 unfolded
around her.

Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened. On June 29, Northwest Airlines
Flight 327 landed safely in Los Angeles and a phalanx of law enforcement
greeted the suspicious passengers, whisking them away for some intense
interviews. Jacobsen noted a pile of Syrian passports in the hand of a law-
enforcement official.

But the men checked out, and Jacobsen was told that they were "hired as
musicians to play at a casino in the desert." She was not told the name of
the band, nor the name of the casino. And as her story made the rounds
through the Internet and beyond (the Dallas Morning News printed a
condensed version earlier this week), a note of skepticism about her story
crept in. Had she imagined the whole thing? Or was the government covering
up a "dry run" for another terrorist attack?

Columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin confirmed some of the details of
Jacobsen's story with the Federal Air Marshal's service, but the identity
of the band remained the subject of much speculation. For a while the
blogosphere settled on a Syrian band called Kulna Sawa as a likely
candidate, but the gents at Powerline received a note from that group's
tour manager explaining the band was still in Syria when all this happened.
Even the mainstream media began to notice the story: New York Times
reporter Joe Sharkey confirmed some of the details of the story today but
admitted he, too, was unable to identify the band.

Well, I am nominally the "news director" for Stanford University's student
radio station, KZSU, and I figured I'd help the Times out. There aren't
that many casinos in southern California, so I had my research assistant,
Mr. Google, take a look at some. An hour later I was talking to the nice
folks at Sycuan Casino & Resort, near San Diego. Unlike most casinos where
it's all Elvis impersonators, Paul Anka, and Linda Ronstadt oh, wait,
scratch that last one Sycuan books the occasional "ethnic music" show,
too. In August, for example, they'll have a Vietnamese night.

"Oh, do you mean Arab music?" inquired Angie, who answered Sycuan's phone.
Yes, they had had an Arab act perform on July 1, an artist named Nour
Mehana. Terry, Angie's supervisor at Sycuan, confirmed that he was there
and that there was probably a backup band brought in, since there's no
house band at Sycuan. In fractions of a second, Mr. Google found a website
for Sycuan's event promoters, Anthem Artists, whose archive confirms Nour
Mehana performed at Sycuan on 7/01/04.

And then I noticed something that was truly terrifying, something linking
Nour Mehana to a figure of such repulsive evil that I felt a rush of
prickly fear not unlike Jacobsen's: Just one week later, the same company
that arranged Mehana's performance, also booked Carrot Top!

I talked to James Cullen of Anthem Artists who confirms that Nour Mehana's
large band did arrive on Northwest Flight 327. Some of them came in from
Detroit, and some from Lebanon. Cullen says they never said anything about
a disturbance on the flight to him, even though "I stayed in the same
hotel, they were nice, they stayed right above me." He said that they were
fine musicians, put on a great show, and he would work with them again in
the future.

Cullen did receive a follow-up e-mail from the Department of Homeland
Security, asking him to confirm that the band had played their gig at
Sycuan. He had read Jacobsen's article and concluded that some "people are
just paranoid." A pilot himself, Cullen insisted that the patterns Jacobsen
perceived wouldn't occur to him. "We should take pride in our system. We've
got to trust our system." (Cullen made it clear that he opposes "this crazy
Bush Iraq war sh*t," but it is important to bear in mind that Cullen also
admitted to booking Carrot Top.)

Nour Mehana (a.k.a. Noor Mehanna, or Nour Mhanna, plus various permutations
of those spellings) is, in fact, Syrian. He performs both "new-agey" hits
and old sentimental Middle Eastern classics in a style called Tarab. In
this catchy ten-minute video of Mehana on stage, (scroll down; the name is
rendered Noor Mhanan this time ) you can see he has a rather large backup
band helping him out. (The resolution is low, but Jacobsen might recognize
some of the band members Mehanna is interacting with.) Followers of news
from Iraq may have heard about the U.S. tour of the "Iraqi Elvis." Well,
Mehana comes across not as an angry jihadi, but rather more like the Syrian
Wayne Newton.

The above article as it app... (Below threshold)
mcdj:

The above article as it appears on the National Review's site...

The Syrian Wayne Newton

Wise up! This exposes the ... (Below threshold)
Bill:

Wise up! This exposes the facts that there still exist massive holes in our airline security. MASSIVE! When will this country learn? When will we wise up? Its going to be many lives later when we finally crack down on our borders, air travel and policies that hurt our people and expose us to continued terrorist attack.

Let me see, just because a ... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Let me see, just because a band of 14 middle eastern musicians have an alibi with a performance scheduled means we shouldn't be suspicious? The same thinking would allow a group of middle eastern students to stay in the U.S. past the deadline of their student visa and take flying lessons. Oh wait... that already happened.

The reality is that terrorists know more about the system than the average U.S. citizens does. They will find the loopholes and if it means learning to fly a plane, program a computer or play an instrument they will do it. We aren't talking a bunch of uneducated rouges.

BTW: The rights we h... (Below threshold)
Eirc:

BTW: The rights we have as U.S. citizens need to be protected even if that means subjecting citizens of other countries to what we consider racial profiling. I don't care. Protect my family along with every other U.S. citizen first and if that changes a few tourist's decisions to travel to this country so be it. Maybe then they will move to do something on their own soil about the problem. (although they probably don't have the right to speak out against it.) In retrospect I would imagine that any European traveler would be just as concerned about being on a plane with terrorists as you or I and maybe even glad to co-operate with security agents.




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