The story of the 6 Imams who were taken off the U.S. Airways flight in Minneapolis is a strange one. The continuing trickle of facts coming out is interesting.
Last night a woman going by the name of "Pauline" told the story from her perspective as a passenger on the flight. She is afraid to use her full name, her hometown or any personal information at all. She fears retribution. It's the times in which we live.
Six Muslim men bring out the prayer mats and pray in the waiting area before boarding the flight. Some other passengers say that they hear disparaging comments about President Bush, the U.S., the war in Iraq and praises of bin Laden. Another Muslim man, not in this group of Imams, translates some of the Arabic into English for other passengers.
Once onboard the Imams change from their assigned seats. In twos, they move to seats by exits. One goes up to first class. Some request seat extenders but don't use them or are heavy enough to require them, for that matter. They put them on the floor of the plane.
This pattern of behavior alarms some of the nearby, alert passengers. This pattern of behavior is known to have been used on 9/11 so the alarm is understandable.
Flight attendants call the authorities and FBI led them off the plane. Bomb sniffer dogs were dispatched. The passengers applauded when the Imams were led off the plane.
The curious part is how it was all reported. Most of us knew nothing about it until the following morning when the attorneys and "victims" were making the rounds on tv telling their version of the story. All of a sudden we had racial, ethnic profiling and misbehavior by the employees of U.S. Airways. They complain they were lead off in handcuffs. "Pauline" says they were not. She said the whole process was quiet and professional.
I applaud the alert passengers for reporting suspicious behavior of fellow passengers. In a post 9/11 world, this is the single most important lesson to learn - do not be afraid of possible embarrassment, speak up. We are all in this together and have to look out for each other.
Turns out one of the Imams squawking the loudest has previous ties to Hamas and money transactions with the group. Turns out the mosque they were traveling to meet at in Arizona is under investigation by the Feds.
Other Muslims were on the flight. None of them had any problems at all. Just these 6 Imams. Why? Well, in today's world if you are Arab speaking Muslims, you have to make adjustments in this country. Flying is not a right, it is a priviledge. The airline is a private company and you should be smart enough to know how to properly behave. These Imams were not unworldly men. They knew exactly how they would be perceived.
Was it all a stunt for publicity? Was it meant to intimidate future flyers from speaking up? Was this meant to pave the way for a future tragedy in the air?
The right call was made. If they want to boycott U.S. Airways, so be it. Who cares? They are victims only of inconvenience and they brought it on themselves. Too bad.
The number in the arrests of the terrorists in training here in Houston has risen to three now. The two arrested earlier in the week had others involved. No surprise. There are more out there.
I hope they are all inconvenienced as soon as possible.