Racial profiling would be unfair and ineffective if someone other than 19 Muslim men had been hijackers on Sept. 11. I doubt these guys weren't doing anything terribly evil or illegal, but I can see -- and they should see -- why people are a little antsy about Muslim men calling out to Allah and switching seats on a domestic U.S. flight, if the latter did, indeed happen.
On the other side of the coin, the men who attacked the WTC, the Pentagon and the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania looked, talked and dressed like ordinary American folks. I'd be more inclined to trust these imams, who made no secret of their piety and did nothing criminal or immoral. And there's a hole in the story: I doubt anyone could switch seats into first class. So if the seat switch turns out to be bullcrap, then we simply have six guys praying loudly in an airport, which is hardly a federal case.
How the imams terrorized an airliner
By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 28, 2006
Muslim religious leaders removed from a Minneapolis flight last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists and were not merely engaged in prayers, according to witnesses, police reports and aviation security officials.
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.
"That would alarm me," said a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous. "They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane."
A pilot from another airline said: "That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline industry."
But the imams who were escorted off the flight in handcuffs say they were merely praying before the 6:30 p.m. flight on Nov. 20, and yesterday led a protest by prayer with other religious leaders at the airline's ticket counter at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, called removing the imams an act of Islamophobia and compared it to racism against blacks.
"It's a shame that as an African-American and a Muslim I have the double whammy of having to worry about driving while black and flying while Muslim," Mr. Bray said.
The protesters also called on Congress to pass legislation to outlaw passenger profiling.
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, said the September 11 terrorist attacks "cannot be permitted to be used to justify racial profiling, harassment and discrimination of Muslim and Arab Americans."
"Understandably, the imams felt profiled, humiliated, and discriminated against by their treatment," she said.