Flying While Arab: Two Passengers Removed From Boston Flight After Speaking Arabic

220px-Gag-overthemouth-lorelei-kibf903In the aftermath of the explosion in Boston, Muslims again appear the target of arbitrary suspicion and detention. On a flight from Boston to Chicago, passengers became alarmed when two different passengers were heard speaking in Arabic. The two passengers were not traveling or seated together but the flight crew returned to the gate to have the two passengers detained.

Several passengers were marathoners. The two men were removed from the plane and detained . . . for speaking one of the most common languages on Earth.

Putting aside the prejudice in the treatment of Arabic speakers, it is illogical to think that terrorists would speak in Arabic if they were truly going to harm passengers. True terrorists try to blend in with population.

The airline bears responsibility for this conduct. There should be more than simply speaking Arabic to have a plane returned to the gate and passengers detained.

Just for the record, estimates indicate that there are 422 million Arabic speakers in this world.  I am not sure what is required from Arabic speaking people? Should they simply not speak in public while traveling in the United States to avoid security alerts and detention?

SOURCE: KRMG

119 thoughts on “Flying While Arab: Two Passengers Removed From Boston Flight After Speaking Arabic

  1. I wonder if my wife and I conversed in German we could get detained for being Nazis or maybe roadies for the band “Nena”? That would add to the excitement of an othewise boring flight.

    Wonder what would happen if two men dressed in traditional Arabic clothing and said in unison the Lord’s Prayer in Latin. It would be the Monty Python “Confuse a Cat” equavalent for the TSA.

    Seriously, this shows the hysteria that people can whip themselves up into. Any reasonable LEO would have just said “what were these two men accused of doing?” the answer “speaking in Arabic” “What did they say, anything threatening?” “I don’t know but it was in Arabic.” “Sorry ma’am it is not a crime. Have a good flight” Case closed.

    But, the race to investigate something that is obviously not a crime or a threat doesn’t matter when people’s unrealistic fears come into play.

    Makes airline travel all the more of an irritation.

  2. We will find out who it is eventually. I think it is a domestic Eric Rudolf type but this is PURELY speculation on my part. I don’t know what the motivations are, not that they are the same as Rudolph’s but the evil is the same.

  3. Kraaken, maybe the bomber is a prominent Democrat. Get a life, The article was about prejudice against arabs in the aftermath of the bombing. Don’t join the ranks of our idiotic news media and blame the tea party.

  4. Fear will make people do stupid things. Don’t have fear have Christ in you. Have him in you be good to people. Have Christ in you have a soul that will never die. People were not good to those Arabic people.

  5. I believe that the bomber is the son or daughter of a hippy couple that happened to have two pressure cookers in the home. Follow the pressure cookers. Leave the arabs at the airport and dont bother them.

  6. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/16/american-airlines-grounds-entire-fleet

    “American Airlines said its computer systems were restored after intermittent outages that lasted several hours on Tuesday, but it cautioned that flight delays and cancellations were still expected for the rest of the day.

    The problems led American to ground its flights for much of the afternoon, stranding travelers across the country. American, a unit of AMR Corp, operates more than 3,500 daily flights worldwide.

    The AMR Corp unit added in a statement that it saw no evidence that its technical outage was related to recent events in Boston.

    Other carriers have also had problems with system outages. Last year, computer outages at United Continental Holdings stranded passengers at airports around the country.

    American plans to merge with rival US Airways Group to form the world’s biggest air carrier.”

  7. The only one to make that decision is the pilot…he is responsible for ANYTHING, so he makes the decisions for EVERYTHING.

  8. While we have very little evidence to suggest exactly who is responsible for the tragedy in Boston, it would be pure obscurantism to ignore the fact that much of the threat to US security originates among Arabic speakers from the Middle East. Fifty plus years of living supports this observation. And while JT is correct that Arabic is a common language, it is not a common language on US domestic flights. Using a foreign language to disguise communication is certainly nothing new. We might recall similar conduct by four of the 9-11 hijackers on a flight that was observed by actor James Woods.

    Caution in the face of crisis is no vice and while discrimination is always regrettable it is certainly understandable given the terrible consequences of ignoring similar warning signs in the past. We need not ignore reality in service to principle. If so, what value is there in those principles.

  9. Ok, when it happened, as to what type of terrorist it was, this is what I concluded:
    Generally American domestic terrorists have traditionally targeted public institutions, and have tried to minimize the injuries to regular people. Just list all the American terrorist attacks in the last 40 years.
    Foreign, usually islamic, based attacks have been directed towards American people, cause damage to people and they consider anything else just gravy on top.
    Based on that analysis, I would predict when our authorities find out who did this, it will be foreign in influence if not directly non-nationals.
    This attack was not designed to harm anything but people, and that was the basis of the terrorism.
    It was obviously a pre-planned, scheduled operation, albeit with lower technology than the usual materials Al Qaeda likes to use. But that is not unusual, even the 911 was essentially a low tech operation.
    (Also, I do not include thespate of insane gunmen directly attacking their victims to be canonical terrorism, although it is obviously terrible. A distinction is they don’t care that everyone knows they did it, are impulsive about it and don’t put too much planning into it, are doing it for a personal statement, and they usually expose themselves to subsequent death or capture.)

  10. Sounds like they listened to Fox news and their commentators such as Rush (not Limaugh, this is the one with the last name Rush) who said Kill all muslims in his tweet related to his belief who did this.

  11. Bob, I do remember the Olympic Park bombing, that was against an institution.
    The MLK bombing would be a partial exception to that trend, it was meant to terrorize a subpopulation of Americans though for ideological reasons, not a cross section of random Americans, as was 911 and the Boston Marathon (unless someone has some deep hatred against long distance runners).
    As to the Speedway Bomber, that was a ruse to distract authorities from a concurrent criminal act, it does not really count as canonical terrorism.

  12. Nick,

    My contacts in the travel industry says that it was not computer problems…..It was something to do with a package at a Terminal …..at DFW….. that’s all I can say….

  13. Mespo,

    “While we have very little evidence to suggest exactly who is responsible for the tragedy in Boston, it would be pure obscurantism to ignore the fact that much of the threat to US security originates among Arabic speakers from the Middle East. Fifty plus years of living supports this observation”

    We have very little evidence to suggest exactly who is responsible for the tragedy in Boston, and we have very little evidence to suggest that they had plans to hi-jack\bomb\whatever an airplane. I mean, that’s a huge departure from

    So, on the one hand, we have speculation based on…. nothing related to the recent crime, on the other hand we have NO REASON TO BELIEVE that the people who were involved in the bombing were planing on doing anything with a plane.

    Call me crazy, but I’m going to go with there being absolutely no reason to remove those two men.

  14. 4chan is the definition of a mob, which aren’t exactly known for their skills at determining guilt or innocence. If you want to talk in terms of credibility 4chan is somewhere above a guy selling me a magic rock, but only if the guy is holding up a sign saying “I’m a Liar.”

    Either way though, the ethnicity of the criminals has nothing to do with the fact that THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THEY WERE PLANNING ON TARGETING A PLANE. None, nadda, zip, zilch, zero.

  15. Gary: …. “domestic terrorists have traditionally targeted public institutions, and have tried to minimize the injuries to regular people. Just list all the American terrorist attacks in the last 40 years.”
    ***

    “Timothy James “Tim” McVeigh (April 23, 1968 – June 11, 2001) was an American terrorist who detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Commonly referred to as the Oklahoma City Bombing, the attack killed 168 people and injured over 800.[3] It was the deadliest act of terrorism within the United States prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.[3] As of 2013, the bombing remains the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in United States history.” — Wikipedia

    I’d hate to think of the casualties had he not attempted to minimize the injuries to people. Terrorism only works if people die or are injured. The only difference between the internal and external terrorists, in practical terms/results, is … none.

  16. Gyges:

    “So, on the one hand, we have speculation based on…. nothing related to the recent crime, on the other hand we have NO REASON TO BELIEVE that the people who were involved in the bombing were planing on doing anything with a plane.”

    *******************

    No, we have a sustained history of Arabic speakers waging war against the people and vital interests of the United States. We also have a declared jihad by Arabic speakers and a pattern of plane hijackings in furtherance of their murderous aims. Thus we have reason to at least suspect Arabic speakers. And we have even more.

    Here is a summary of the terror statistics from the US State Department.
    Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third consecutive year. More than 5,700 incidents were attributed to Sunni extremists, accounting for nearly 56 percent of all attacks and about 70 percent of all fatalities. Among this perpetrator group, al-Qa‘ida (AQ) and its affiliates were responsible for at least 688 attacks that resulted in almost 2,000 deaths, while the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan conducted over 800 attacks that resulted in nearly 1, 900 deaths. Secular, political, and anarchist groups were the next largest category of perpetrators, conducting 2,283 attacks with 1,926 fatalities, a drop of 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, from 2010.

    http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2011/195555.htm

    Thus, Arabic speakers in US airspace immediately following an act of terrorism which statistically is likely the result of Sunni Arabs and with the flight originating from the location of the site of the attack merits our attention, our caution, and our innate human good sense to keep two from combining with two to create four.

    Reality doesn’t come with sensitivity; it hits you square in the face.

  17. Mespo:

    “Caution in the face of crisis is no vice and while discrimination is always regrettable it is certainly understandable given the terrible consequences of ignoring similar warning signs in the past. We need not ignore reality in service to principle. If so, what value is there in those principles.”

    Mespo, while that sounds ever so reasonable on the surface, it is essentially the same reasoning that led to the removal of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast to internment camps during World War II. I assume you would agree that there was no constitutional or factual basis for doing so. If not, I suppose there is a different discussion to be had.

  18. Porkchop:

    We could have that discussion but I think we’d need to set different parameters. Here, we’re not talking about interning these two Arabic speakers. We’re talking about stopping the plane to gauge their intentions before taking off. That seems a relatively minor intrusion into their rights compared to the Japanese internment of men, women, and children in the functional equivalent of concentration camps. But it’s a discussion worth having, I agree.

  19. Mespo,

    So, are people NEVER allowed to speak Arabic on airplanes? Or is it just after terrorist attacks with no connection to commercial aviation?

    You seem to be ignoring my main point, which was There was NO REASON to suspect that there would be a terrorist attack on a commercial airplane. Not by people speaking Arabic, not by people speaking English, and not by people using an elaborate cypher involving two decks of cards.

  20. With Muslims throughout the world–including those living in the USA–cheering the attacks on Americans, and only sorry that there were “not enough casualties,” responses like this one are very sensible. Only the anti-American leftists (and is there any other kind of leftist?) would be offended by such cautious moves to protect Americans. The leftists think and believe that Americans have terrorist attacks “coming to them” for their “imperialist” policies. They are essentially disgusting Islam-firsters.

  21. Ralph Adamo, How offensive, those that don’t agree with you must be Anti-American, You need to look up the definition of democracy and what America (used to) stand for, you know pesky things like freedom of opinion.

    Mespo Was it right that the Saudi man who was injured in the attack had his home invaded, his things searched and looked at as a potential actor in the bombing rather then a victim of the attack before there was any reason (if ever there is one) to suspect him?
    By that reasoning any time an arab person is injured in an attack or anywhere they should be immediately suspect of being a bad guy. It is akin to the internment of Japanese Americans, Good American citizens being rounded up without cause but for their ethnicity.

  22. Gyges:

    “You seem to be ignoring my main point, which was There was NO REASON to suspect that there would be a terrorist attack on a commercial airplane.”

    ****************

    I thought I answered your claim of no rational basis for the decision by pointing out that contextual, historical, anecdotal, and statistical reasons exist which support the decision. We may disagree with the decision but can we really question its rational basis without resort to emotional revulsion over the seeming unfairness of it?

  23. leejcaroll:

    I have to assume some judge somewhere believed there was a rational basis upon which the probable cause to search decision was made. We don’t have the affidavit to judge but we can’t assume because nothing was found that no reason existed to conduct the search. We make our decisions moving forward — not backward after we know the outcomes.

  24. If the whole TSA security thing isn’t a bad joke on the American people there’s little if any reason to be concerned with people speaking some Mideastern language or any other language on a plane. People just need to chill out. I’m still in the ‘it was improperly discriminatory’ camp.

  25. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/the-saudi-marathon-man.html
    Was his the rational basis? How much time was there to even have found a ‘rational” basis?

    “There must be enough evidence to keep him there,” Andrew Napolitano said on “Fox and Friends”—“there” being the hospital. “They must be learning information which is of a suspicious nature,” Steve Doocy interjected. “If he was clearly innocent, would they have been able to search his house?” Napolitano thought that a judge would take any reason at a moment like this, but there had to be “something”—maybe he appeared “deceitful.” As Mediaite pointed out, Megyn Kelly put a slight break on it (as she has been known to do) by asking if there might have been some “racial profiling,” but then, after a round of speculation about his visa (Napolitano: “Was he a real student, or was that a front?”), she asked, “What’s the story on his ability to lawyer up?”

    By Tuesday afternoon, the fever had broken. Report after report said that he was a witness, not a suspect. “He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” a “U.S. official” told CNN. (So were a lot of people at the marathon.) Even Fox News reported that he’d been “ruled out.” At a press conference, Governor Deval Patrick spoke, not so obliquely, about being careful not to treat “categories of people in uncharitable ways.”

  26. Mespo,

    Also, just for fun:Wikipedia lists since 1960 (the last 50 or so years), ~79 successful attacks (I may have miscounted by a couple and don’t really have time to look at the unsuccessful attempts), a quick perusal through those show that the vast majority are domestic terrorist organizations, most of whom would be unlikely to have spoken Arabic during there attacks.

    The numbers from the report you cited were for attacks worldwide, against any target. A closer look limiting ourselves to attacks on US soil shows a different picture.

  27. Gyges:

    “The numbers from the report you cited were for attacks worldwide, against any target. A closer look limiting ourselves to attacks on US soil shows a different picture.”
    **********************

    I’m certain we could limit the data in such a way that only hicks from Mississippi (like our apparent Ricin mailer) were the most likely culprits but that would prove very little about the reasonableness of the belief by that pilot. You are simply asking too much for people to ignore the very real fact that some significant segment of the Sunnis want us all very much dead. There’s too much history, too much video footage of the terrorists threatening us, and too many instances of horrific attacks around the globe for us to don the blinders you suggest.

  28. Well, I guess we have now educated terrorists not to speak Arabic on airplanes. Since, surely, Arabic speakers are incapable of learning any other language, and, surely, Arabic-speaking terrorists could not possibly do anything without talking about it in Arabic, problem solved. We are all safer now.

    It would be better, though, to have TSA weed them out at the security line — just exclude all Arabic speakers and all persons who hold passports from Arabic-speaking countries — because Arabic-speakers are especially sneaky about getting stuff through airport security (and then talking about it in Arabic on the plane).

  29. lottakatz:
    Of course McVeigh is the archetypal domestic terrorist, attacking the most archetypal target, a govt building housing several law enforcement agencies.
    I didn’t say that domestic terrorists don’t kill people, what I said was their targets are usually govt or institutional, not random anybodies in the street.
    That is why, without knowing any more, my first guess is that the Boston attack of non-american origin. It was a classic, attack as many unaffiliated people as indiscriminately possible, type attack, which has the hallmarks of a foreign, likely theologically based, motivation.
    Of course I may well be proven wrong, but if it is a domestically based person or group, it would be an unusual targeting.

  30. Mespo,

    I thought I answered your claim of no rational basis for the decision by pointing out that contextual, historical, anecdotal, and statistical reasons exist which support the decision. We may disagree with the decision but can we really question its rational basis without resort to emotional revulsion over the seeming unfairness of it?

    I guess I shouldn’t say that there was no reason. Maybe no GOOD reason would be a better standard. Rational’s a funny word, I mean we can rationalize a wide variety of things, if we’re making bad assumptions or willing to ignore arguments and facts that don’t support or decision. So yes, I can absolutely question the quality of the rational basis without resorting to emotional revulsion (also, since when does what’s fair not have a place when discussion if a decision was justified or not?).

    Let’s just look at the statistics you cited. What they say is that, if you pick a random terrorist attack last year, you’ve got a slightly better than half chance of picking one done by Sunni extremists. The thing is, we’re not talking about if a random terrorist attack was being done by Sunni extremists. We’re talking about the likelihood that a non-random attack would be done by somebody who spoke Arabic. There are parameters: on an airplane; leaving from Boston; and following immediately after another terrorist attack on U.S. soil (which increases the likelihood of a link between the two); in a different manner then the attack it follows. I’m guessing that if we look at the probability of most of those happening, we’d find that a)terrorist hijacking of planes are very rare when compared to total numbers of flights within the Continental US carrying at least two people who speak Arabic b)That number’s even lower when departing from Boston c)terrorist attacks immediately after another attack are rare in the U.S,. especially when the method is vastly different. I’d be willing to bet that when you factor in all those variables, there would be a higher chance of that one of the passengers had some sort of nasty and contagious illness than the two men were terrorists.

    To draw an analogy, you could, looking at statistics for the entire world, say that the next person I’m going to meet is more likely to speak Mandarin than any other language. Or, looking at the statistics for Colorado, you could say that the next person I’m going to meet is MUCH more likely to speak English.

    So what I’m saying is, while there may be a reason for that pilot to have be afraid of having Arabic speakers on a plane, it has more basis in the way our brains are wired, the way terrorism, Islam, and people who speak Arabic are portrayed in than with the actual chance that those two men had any ill intent.

  31. Mespo,

    I think Jefferson stated something along those lines…. And I’m paraphrasing…. Though we all hold different beliefs… That’s what binds us together as a nation……. So long as we allow those who differ to hold those beliefs as they do…..(liberally paraphrased)

  32. Darren Smith: “I wonder if my wife and I conversed in German we could get detained for being Nazis…?”

    When I travel in non-English speaking countries, I use my half-baked French so the locals think, “he’s not an American.” I see it as a form of self-defence.

  33. AY:

    “We are bound, you, I, and every one to make common cause, even
    with error itself, to maintain the common right of freedom of
    conscience.” –Thomas Jefferson to Edward Dowse, 1803.

  34. mespo:

    The principal problem with anecdotal justification is that it is anecdotal. Anecdotes combined with fear is the classic recipe for lynch mobs. Indeed, we have fought two wars this past decade based largely on anecdotal evidence. But if that is the new standard, give me a few anecdotes and a couple of hours and I’ll cobble together a probable cause affidavit sufficient for a warrant to search whatever you like.

    Fear distorts reason. Yesterday the right-wing media was almost frantically concocting new Muslim conspiracies to explain the Boston bombings.

    I’m with Gyges on this one.

  35. Mike, mespo, gyges and I are on the same basic page Mike. While I agree it was harsh… It’s was a safety exception in play long before Boston….

  36. I’m with the Gyges/Mike A. camp with an extra “what Mike A. said” thrown in.

    Even true anecdotes are based on a flawed sample space, mespo.

  37. A captain of a ship, and more importantly a plane, has to have absolute discretion to throw off anyone he does not like the looks, sound, or smell of.

  38. Mespo:

    “While we have very little evidence to suggest exactly who is responsible for the tragedy in Boston, it would be pure obscurantism to ignore the fact that much of the threat to US security originates among Arabic speakers from the Middle East. Fifty plus years of living supports this observation”

    This incident was either
    1) Sound security practice, or
    2) Hysterical racist stereotyping

    I’m with (2)

    If it was (1) …..
    Is it your argument that people speaking Arabic on a flight should cause that flight to land at the nearest airport – with an escort of F15’s to shoot it down if it deviates from the flight path?

    Should passengers be instructed not to speak Arabic (or indeed any language that sounds funny)?
    Does this apply only if they look brown?
    Should brown people be advised to use use skin-lightening creams before boarding a flight?

    Oh! Here’s an idea…
    Should terrorists on a plane avoid talking in Arabic about the hijacking that they are about to pull off?
    What if someone not in their group understands Arabic?
    Would not the use of Arabic by Arabic-speaking people on a flight be an indication that they are not terrorists?
    Brilliant!
    Terrorists get on the flight. They got into the vountry in the first place. Then for an internal flight passed all the credential and physical scanning that the TSA bought and maintains at massive expense. Then they speak Arabic …and their cover is blown. Foiled! They just sit in their seats quietly while the aircraft returns to the gate and large gentlemen with guns take them off.

    What you appear to be recommending is institutionalised stupidity.
    .

    Take this woman Shoshana Hebshi
    http://tsanewsblog.com/8961/news/shoshana-hebshi-suing-the-tsa-and-frontier-airlines/

    She happened to be of a brownish persuasion and had the misfortune to be on the same flight as two completely innocent brown men whose use of the bathroom caused someone to panic.
    She had no connection worth them other than her brownish attributes. Hauled off in handcuffs, strip-searched, held for 4 hours.

    I wish her great success in her lawsuit.
    Maybe it will settle out of court.
    A danger for her would be that a jury could be packed with moronic people who have been traumatised by the Department of Homeland Stupidity.

  39. Leejcaroll,

    By that reasoning any time an arab person is injured in an attack or anywhere they should be immediately suspect of being a bad guy

    I think you are being a bit harsh there.
    I think what triggered the totally heroic actions of the bystanders that took this innocent injured brown person down was the fact that he was running.
    Innocent people don’t run away when bombs are going off. They just stand there. Running away from danger is a very suspicious thing to do.

  40. The captain had to make a security decision based the best information he had available. I would not fault his reliance on anecdotal evidence in the context of an immediate bombing scenario, an ongoing search for the killers, complaints from passengers, and the knowledge we all have about the origin of many hijacking threats. We can certainly compensate our Arabic speaking friends for their trouble and inconvenience. That would be a pittance compared to the costs if the passengers had been right, the pilot had succumbed to political correctness, and tragedy struck.

  41. Slingbuchet:

    “By that reasoning any time an arab person is injured in an attack or anywhere they should be immediately suspect of being a bad guy’

    ********************

    Statistically speaking and if you meant in the aftermath of a terroristic attack, you’d be on solid ground.

  42. “The captain had to make a security decision based the best information he had available.”

    Best information:
    Two guys speaking Arabic on the plane.
    These two guys have been cleared by the TSA to board the plane – not just routine cleared, but cleared during a hightened alert following a bombing in the city and a search for the perps.

    So second-guess the TSA.
    Maybe they didn’t speak Arabic to each other while checking in and going through security. That is the only additional information that the pilot has – and which might not have been available to the TSA.
    The TSA might have guessed from the appearances and IDs that the guys could speak Arabic, but maybe didn’t check. Preumably if they had checked or simply overheard them speaking Arabic, then they would have detained the pair.
    Those guys might have spoken only English before boarding in order to evade detection, and are now possibly loudly discussing a hijacking procedure in Arabic after boarding.
    Best security decision is therefore to panic.
    .

    Statisically speaking,
    “While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.”
    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/

    So…
    When a crime is committed, investigate the colored people in the vicinity.
    It might be a good idea to have colored people sitting at the back of buses – preferable behind a metal grille so that nervous white people can feel safe.

  43. Sling:

    Totally dismissing the temporal context of the decision doesn’t help your argument. This was not just any random day as you seem to imply.

    And your argument that the same argument applies to African-Americans is likewise Swiss cheese. We know about the history of discrimination in charging and sentencing in this country, just as we know that Sunnis actually perpetuate 56% of the terrorist acts and admit it with great gusto.

    You can’t just leave out pertinent facts to prove your point. You can have your own set of opinions; just not your own set of facts.

  44. Mespo:

    Totally dismissing the temporal context of the decision doesn’t help your argument. This was not just any random day as you seem to imply.

    You must have missed reading my:
    =============================
    Best information:
    Two guys speaking Arabic on the plane.
    These two guys have been cleared by the TSA to board the plane – not just routine cleared, but cleared during a hightened alert following a bombing in the city and a search for the perps.

    So second-guess the TSA.
    =============================

    The two Arabic speakers had not been stopped by the TSA on that particular day leaving that particular city.
    The TSA would presumably have vetted their IDs, body language, full body scan / pat down etc.
    It’s not a stretch to presume that they might have had a careful look at them – and particularly in the “temporal context”.
    A subsequent decision was made based on what new alarming information?
    It seems that some passengers were alarmed simply by the guys speaking Arabic.
    Two innocent brown people were taken off the plane because some hysterics were wetting their pants.
    It wasn’t a rational security decision.
    It was a ‘bow down to the stupid’ decision. It was a moronic “Hey, someone pressed our ‘Stupid Button’ , se we have to go apeshit” decision.

    I hope those guys get a good lawyer and sue the ass off the morons.

    If anyone on that plane was really worried about travelling with Arabic speakers who had been vetted by the TSA on that particular day in that particular city, then I would suggest that:
    1) They should have asked to be able to leave the plane. Alternatively the airline should have thrown them off the flight as their gross stupidity might represent a danger to everyone else if an emergency arose.
    2) They should never travel by air again, as the TSA are clearly unable to stop Arabic speakers getting on planes. The two brown Arabic speakers were only taken off the plane because some quick-witted person noticed that they were talking in Arabic. Without that quick and decisive action, people might have heard more Arabic words during the flight. Is this what the taxpayers are paying billions for? It’s completely unacceptable that Arabic speakers can just walk onto flights and talk.

  45. Sling:

    Your point taken. My point was that these guys were leaving Boston on the day of the bombing and the pilot was justified in using his judgment even if TSA cleared them. He’s the court of last resort once the plane’s doors close. I understand the heightened alert status but the pilot gets to exercise his judgment. That’s the nature of the job. If it’s a rational decision I wouldn’t second guess it. My point all along was that this was no capricious action by the pilot as JT seemed to opine.

  46. How was it a rational decision?
    Would you like to attempt a reconstruction of his rational thought process?

    One ‘rational’ line would be:
    1. Some passengers seem upset simply from hearing Arabic from these guys who have been cleared to fly by the TSA on this particular day in this particular city.
    2. Clearly these passengers are hysterics.
    3. I could try talking to them and pursuade them to see sanity.
    4. I should throw these hysterical passengers off. Who knows what sort of disturbance they will create. They might start a riot.
    5. Alternatively I could solve the immediate issue by throwing the brown people off.
    6. Which course of action would give me the easiest life?
    7. OK. I’ll sacrifice the brown foreigners. They are probably less likely to give me grief than would the stupid hysterical passengers. Sure they’ll probably get a hard time for a few hours, strip-searched, etc for no good reason – maybe miss their connections, lose a load of money or whatever. Maybe by just having being through an investigation, they will have a hard time on all future flights for all time. But hey, life sucks sometimes. I’d rather have their life sucking than mine. F**k them.

  47. I might add that the pilot making that decision was sitting in a locked cockpit behind a reinforced door, so no terrorist would be taking over the cockpit under any circumstances. Moreover, while there are plenty of ways to make improvised weapons from things legally on planes, I think we can safely assume that there were no firearms or knives available to these Arabic speakers. What is the potential threat? That they excitedly would shout unintelligible things at other passengers? I suspect that would simply get them duct-taped to their seats like that guy on the (I think) Icelandair flight.

  48. Sling:

    “How was it a rational decision?”

    ************************

    It was rational because it had a basis in fact as we’ve explored in depth. You don’t like the facts relied upon but that doesn’t make it an an irrational decision. It just means you MIGHT have decided the question differently if you were in charge of the plane. Rational people can disagree. And just because they do doesn’t make their position irrational. I’ve never questioned the rationality of your position merely the judgment of relying on that position with the lives of a hundred or so people in your hands. As I said, I’m not second guessing the pilot’s call here and I’m pretty sure a jury in Boston wouldn’t either.

  49. Mespo:

    “It was rational because it had a basis in fact as we’ve explored in depth. You don’t like the facts relied upon but that doesn’t make it an an irrational decision.”

    Only if you accept broad over-generalizations on a panic-by-panic basis.

    1) Some terrorists speak Arabic.
    2) These men speak Arabic.
    3) Therefore, these men are terrorists.

    I like this.

    1) Most terrorists are men.
    2) These men are men.
    3) Therefore, these men are terrorists.

    Let’s transfer that logic to some other issues.

    1) Some women are bimbos.
    2) Hillary Clinton is a woman.
    3) Therefore, Hillary Clinton is a bimbo.

    1) Gay men are attracted to males.
    2) Young boys are males.
    3) Therefore, gay men are attracted to young boys.

    1) Some Christians are intolerant bigots who oppose gay marriage.
    2) Barack Obama is a Christian (or maybe he’s a secret Muslim — I don’t know).
    3) Therefore, Barack Obama is an intolerant bigot who opposes gay marriage,

    Oh, wait . . .

  50. porkchop:

    Metaphysic all you want. The real question is would you put your loved one on that plane knowing what the pilot knew?

    That’s where the rubber meets the road, all this enlightened analysis notwithstanding.

  51. The real question is would you put your loved one on that plane knowing what the pilot knew?

    OK. I’ll bite.
    What did the pilot know?

  52. The pilot knew that the men passed TSA security.

    Is it an issue that this pilot clearly doesn’t trust the security procedures and personnel at airports he/she flies in and out? Maybe that’s the real issue. This pilot knows something we don’t…

    …or the TSA is in on the plot?

    All that matters is that we can definitively say that the decision was rational and not sparked by hysterics, right?

  53. Just for general background:

    According to Wikipedia there are between 1.5 million and 3.5 million Arab-Americans in the United States (depends on which survey you look at). 63% of them are Christian.

    “The Detroit metropolitan area is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans (403,445), followed by the New York City Combined Statistical Area (371,233), Los Angeles (308,295), Chicago (176,208), and the Washington D.C area. (168,208).”

    They include such well-known terrorists as John Sununu, Darrel Issa, Jamie Farr, Frank Zappa, and Salma Hayek.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_American

  54. gbk,

    Yeah, i knew that. Guess I need to watch my tenses.

    But Dweezil, Ahmet, Moon Unit and Diva are still around — kind of a quadruple threat on any airplane.

  55. Unless I’m missing something, the operative “facts” constituting a rational basis to stop the flight were the sounds of two men speaking Arabic. If that was sufficient to create panic, it means that we have become fearful of our own shadows. It also means more than that, however. It means that pluralism is succumbing to tribalism. That is the real story here, and it is not pretty.

    And in response to mespo’s earlier question, my vote would have been to continue. I don’t know your experience, but in the course of my career in Central Florida, I have represented Sunnis and Shia Muslims. I have represented Egyptians, Lebanese, Indians and Saudis, as well as people from various parts of Europe. And when I drove a taxicab in Boston in college, I actually permitted black people to get in. We need to get over this nonsense and grow up as a nation.

    Now if I were sitting on a plane and two people started speaking in tongues and passing out Gideons, I might want to turn back.

  56. Why don’t we have 2 tiers of flights. There will be the one w/ safety measures based on the EL AL model, and one governed by the ACLU. That way, the folks here and elsewhere can have a choice as to what kind of security they want. I would give the ACLU airlines about 2 months before they go bankrupt.

  57. Porkchop,

    “But Dweezil, Ahmet, Moon Unit and Diva are still around — kind of a quadruple threat on any airplane.”

    Only Ahmet would raise suspicion. Especially if pronounced correctly, with a subtle guttural scrape between the “A” and “H.”

  58. mespo:

    kids are always asking my wife why people cross the street when they walk by and tell her they think it is because they are Hispanic. Then they say “those people think we must be in a gang or something”. And my wife says “well arent you?” And they say “yes we are.”

  59. Bron:

    People who don’t want to fly with Arabic speakers can “cross the street” by leaving the plane. That’s a little different, I think, than throwing the undesirables off the street/plane.

  60. I wonder how many Chechens were on that flight?
    We’re talking caucasians who don’t look at all brown — and might actually speak English – with an American accent even.

    It’s all very confusing. There should be a law that obliges terrorists to wear headbands with “Terrorist” printed on them.
    Cleary, just panicing and abusing brown people is not sufficient security.

  61. Porkchop:

    I have mixed feelings about this. I dont think it is an easy call to make. We werent on the plane and we dont have access to information about body language and tone of voice, nor do we know what they were wearing or for that matter what they were saying.

    Were they perspiring, were they nervous, were they whispering, talking loudly or in natural tones?

    If I was in a bank and a white guy came into the bank wearing sunglasses and had his hand in a coat pocket, looked distracted and was sweating, I would leave the bank and call the cops.

    We still have our lizard brains but most of us dont use them. Sometimes the lizard brain is saying danger because of some perception we have that we dont even consciously know we have had. A vein throbbing on a forehead, a strained tone of voice, etc.

    If I were captain of the plane I would have told the passengers they have a choice, that we have 2 Arab speakers on the plane and if that makes you nervous you are free to take another flight. There is the door and we will have your bags waiting at our destination.

  62. Mike A.,

    Many have become fearful of their own shadows. The questions are “why”, “how”, “is it rational and based on evidence in proper context” and “to whom does the benefits of fear accrue”. The truth of the matter is you are extremely unlikely to die from a terrorist action. The National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) in their 2011 Report on Terrorism found the following:

    “The total number of worldwide attacks in 2011, however, dropped by almost 12 percent from 2010 and nearly 29 percent from 2007.” (9)

    “Attacks by AQ and its affiliates increased by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011. A significant increase in attacks by al-Shabaab, from 401 in 2010 to 544 in 2011, offset a sharp decline in attacks by al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) and a smaller decline in attacks by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” (11)

    “In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.” (14)

    Of 978 terrorism-related kidnapping last year, only three hostages were private U.S. citizens, or .003 percent. A private citizen is defined as ‘any U.S. citizen not acting in an official capacity on behalf of the U.S. government.’ (13, 17)

    Of the 13,288 people killed by terrorist attacks last year, seventeen were private U.S. citizens, or .001 percent. (17)

    This indicates that the fear of terrorism is irrationally overblown and oversold. Fear is a poor basis for not just policy but action as well. If this is the case (and I think it is), then the question to who benefits from a culture of fear becomes critical. Here’s a hint: it’s not just the terrorists who benefit.

  63. Were they perspiring, were they nervous, were they whispering, talking loudly or in natural tones?

    I’ve seen people on flights doing all of the above.
    Some people are really scared of flying, but not scared enough to use alternative means of travel.

    Should I assume that these tense nervous people are hijackers?
    Should I assume this only if they are brown (or Chechen ) or speak in a strange language?

    Should I remember that my small nail-file was taken off me at the security check?

    As I understand the situation on that flight, the two were not travelling together or sitting together. They were maybe speaking to each other across rows/aisle – which is not unusual for non-brown people to do.
    .

    What I find frrustrating about this sort of incident is that the media never seem to follow up. Reporting seems to consist of a series of SHINY!!!.
    What happened to those guys after they were taken off the flight?

    In the case of Shoshana Hebshi that I mentioned above, details came out for her case only because she blogged about it.
    The two innocent brown people that were the trigger for her unpleasant experience just disappeared as far as any information about them is concerned.
    On the same day, some panic about (innocent) brown people caused a flight to land in New York – escorted by fighters. I never could find out what happened to them. How long were they detained – how they were treated.
    The Media were only interested in the sexy headline.

  64. “The suspects are brothers of Chechen origin with the last name Tsarnaev, law enforcement officials told NBC News. The suspect at large, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is 19, was born in Kyrgyzstan and has a Massachusetts driver’s license, they said. The dead suspect was identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, born in Russia.”

    What did I say? Foreign terrorists, not domestic. QED

  65. What did I say? Foreign terrorists, not domestic. QED

    “Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, born in Russia.”
    —– but living in the US since 1992.

    So he snuck into the US at the age of 5 in order to commit acts of terrorism.
    The sheer cunning of the child!

  66. Gary T:

    my question is if he had been living here that long what made him do what he did? how did he get radicalized?

  67. how did he get radicalized?

    I think “disaffected” might be more accurate than “radicalized”.

    This pair may have more in common with loner ‘school shooters’ than with terrorists on a mission.

    Where is their manifesto?
    Perhaps if the cops don’t kill him, or he doesn’t kill himself, the motivations might become clear.
    They appear to have been living the greater part of their lives in the US, so friends and acquaintances will have stories.

  68. Sling:
    You wanna nitpick?
    I originally said:
    “Based on that analysis, I would predict when our authorities find out who did this, it will be foreign in influence if not directly non-nationals.”

    Read the freekin posts on this thread.

  69. Bron:

    There are parallels in Britain.
    Youth born and raised there, but embedded in a community of hatred.
    It does take its toll.

  70. Gary T:

    people are born tabula rasa and can only work with what they are taught. Bad teaching yields this outcome.

    It is a shame these young minds are destroyed like this. They could have written poetry, novels, done life saving research, made films, any number of productive activities but were trained to kill instead.

    What a waste of human potential. Their parents could have just killed them at birth for how their lives have turned out.

  71. Bron:

    “Were they perspiring, were they nervous, were they whispering, talking loudly or in natural tones?”

    Obviously, you have never been on an airplane with my sister-in-law; she’s a wreck even after she takes the tranquilizers.

  72. http://www.salon.com/2013/04/18/reports_fbi_to_release_picture/

    Chechnya president: “You must look for the roots of their evil in America”

    Quartz translation of Instagram posting by Chechnya president Ramzan Kadyrov: “The events that took place in Boston are tragic. People have been killed as a result of a terrorist act. Earlier we expressed our condolences to the residents of the city and to the American people. Today, according to media reports, during an arrest attempt a certain Tsarnaev was killed. It would have made sense to arrest him and carry out an investigation, clarify all the circumstances and his degree of guilt. Evidently, the security services needed a result at any price in order to calm the populace. Any attempt to link Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs, if indeed they are guilty, are futile. They grew up in the USA, their viewpoints and beliefs were formed there. You must look for the roots of [their] evil in America. Terrorism must be fought everywhere. We know this better than anyone. We wish all the victims a [speedy] recovery and share in Americans’ grief.

    David Daley posted at 11:47 AM

  73. From above david Daley posting cited: “They grew up in the USA, their viewpoints and beliefs were formed there. You must look for the roots of [their] evil in America.”
    But it may have nothing to do with Chechyna or the family oculd have taught them hatred with a Chechnya background as the reasons or family lessons as the reason that have nothing to do with their ethnicity but with how they were raised. At this oint pointing the finger towards or away is what is futile. Only speculation and an attempt to quickly divert in case it is related to Chechyna.
    And as for the Arabic speakers, anyone who speaks any language not immediately recognizable like Spanish or French, or Italian and are on an airplane or in line to get on one, oh heck or in the subway or on the train platform should be suspected because each time this happens seems it is not always the same culprits. Maybe kids too we should stop, pat them all down for guns.

  74. “We have been in a virtual state of overreaction since 9/11.” -Mike Appleton

    And the full extent of it still hasn’t come to light.

    (And what Gene H. said, as well.)

  75. One of the outcomes of this will be a naked ramping up of pervasive surveillance of everyone.
    Every action on the Net – every telephone call or text – every finincial transaction is potentially of interest.
    Look up Trapwire and think about all those CCTV cameras available to be linked up to that system.

    The NSA are building a huge US$1.5 billion data store in the desert – with massive computing power.
    http://nsa.gov1.info/utah-data-center/index.html

    The storage capacity of the Utah Data Center will be measured in “zettabytes”. What exactly is a zettabyte? There are a thousand gigabytes in a terabyte; a thousand terabytes in a petabyte; a thousand petabytes in an exabyte; and a thousand exabytes in a zettabyte.

    Every breath you take will be sucked into that thing – not because you’re suspected of anything, not because you are special in any way – but because something about anybody might become possibly interesting to someone else depending on how society moves along.
    Think of a FaceBook Graph that has no privacy (from any interested authorised party) and covers *everything*.

    Don’t worry. The NSA does not spy on Americans….
    Well..OK… they do.
    But Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
    “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear (TM)”

    What the United States of Hysterica is developing a turnkey totalitarian surveillance state.

    It’s sort of like Obama signing off on the NDAA and saying that *he* wouldn’t use some of the powers that it makes legal.
    He won’t order the military to detain US citizens without trial, he says. That’s very comforting.
    .

    I’m stunned that the NRA is not agitating against NDAA and its cousins.
    One plank of the gun lobby is “Guns are a God-given right, enshrined in the Constitutiuon”
    The other plank is that a well-armed militia would be able to resist some future oppressive government.

    That last one is fast becoming a fantasy.

  76. I’ve been looking for information on what happened to the two Arabic speakers after they were taken off the flight.

    The DHS Daily reports don’t mention the incident.
    This is rather strange as those reports routinely list things like traffic jams :)

    Does anyone know of a good source or a report on the incident – that follows through?

  77. When people cheer for the suspension of constitutional rights for Arab-speaking people/Muslims/whomever, they are also cheering for the suspension of their own rights.

  78. I think radicalized is the appropriate term unless they were on drugs like Dillon and Clebold.

    I think I’ll stick with “disaffected”.
    So far, the action seems to have been purely nihilistic, with no particular mission.

  79. In a country with jails I say over and over there are no frights for anyone. Arbitrariness rules with fear motivating the actions of people Devils fear losing the body. People that kill for the sake of killing are to God the losers of everything. The way God thinks and the way we think without God in us is the opposite to what God thinks.

  80. In a country with jails I say over and over there are no rights for anyone. Arbitrariness rules with fear motivating the actions of people Devils fear losing the body. People that kill for the sake of killing are to God the losers of everything. The way God thinks and the way we think without God in us is the opposite to what God thinks.

  81. In a country with jails I say over and over there are no rights for anyone. Arbitrariness rules with fear motivating the actions of people. Devils fear losing the body. People that kill for the sake of killing are to God the losers of everything. The way God thinks and the way we think without God in us is the opposite to what God thinks.

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