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On A Plane

As much as I see fear at every turn these days, I still remain - mostly - the cynic and skeptical person I've always been. This is the story of Annie Jacobsen, who saw supsicious activity on a flight and was distressed at how the incident was handled. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you do. It's long, but it's thought provoking in many ways. My first reaction was to call BS. There were too many holes, too much detail, and it came off like a bit of creative writing. Some of the passages seem too far fetched to be real. Some read like they were taken out of a cheap novel. However, most of the blogosphere is taking the author at her word. Michelle Malkin has more on the claims (and on people's skepticism) here and here. Over at Red State, MartiniPundit is calling the whole thing a hoax. And over at Jessica's Well, they are asking what you would do in a situation like that, or more specifically, if a plane was taken over by terrorists. I don't know what to think. Racial and ethnic profiling makes me uncomfortable. I have too many Arab neighbors to start thinking that every Arab I see is a potential terrorist. Are people, given the abundance of threats hitting the airwaves these days, seeing things that aren't there? Are they looking too hard to find something suspicious in people who fit a certain profile? I suppose I should be honest and say the main reason I don't believe this story is because I don't want to believe it. I don't want to think that our national security is at risk because people's suspicions aren't taken seriously or because we have a quota on how many people of a certain nationality we can give the once over. Which all flies directly in the face of my stance against ethnic profiling, I know. Maybe I'm just subconciously denying that Annie's story is real and these men were terrorists because I really don't need another thing to worry about right now. I'm oversaturated with fear at the moment, thank you. If these passengers were indeed doing a dry run for an attack, we're in deep shit. But suppose they were just some guys in a band, all traveling together. Then suppose the passengers got agitated enough to confront them, or the pilot took Annie's supsicions seriously and immediately landed the plane and escorted the men off the flight. If they are innocent of any wrongdoing, we've got egg on our face and we're accused of being some kind of racists police state. If this story is real and these men were what Annie thought they were, it's a frightening story, indeed. Enough to make me start doing that nervous twitch everytime a plane flies a bit too low over my house. I thought I got rid of that twitch. The more I write about it (as I'm reading other bloggers' reactions to the story while I compose this), the more I think, why not? They keep saying they're going to do something, why would I think this story is not true? Again, I don't want it to be true. The implications are not something I can let my brain chew on right now. Head, meet sand. But what if? What if they were making a dry run? You can't really protect the country by dealing in what ifs. So what's the solution? Or is there one? And what do you make of this story? Update: Where I see fear, Scott sees optimism. Good on him.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference On A Plane:

» TERROR IN THE SKIES (CONTINUED) from Michelle Malkin
Regarding Annie Jacobsen's intriguing article, I just got word from Dave Adams of the Federal Air Marshals Service (FAM). Adams confirmed that he spoke to Annie Jacobsen, was quoted accurately in her story, and confirmed some of the basic facts... [Read More]

Here's a tough question that needs to be asked: when does a terrorist threat from Islamic fundamentalists justify the use of racial profiling to deal with that threat? It seems to me that the issue is less stark than any... [Read More]

» "Terror In The Sky" -- something doesn't sound right... from Ramblings' Journal
Anne Jacobsen's story, "Terror In The Sky" from WomensWallStreet.com and FrontPageMagazine.com is being scrutinized pretty heavily across the blogosphere today.The gist of the story is that Anne, her husband and son recently flew cross-country from Det... [Read More]

» My Mildly Worrisome Flight Story from INDC Journal
I figured that I'd blog about this minorly interesting event, since the blogosphere is abuzz with Annie Jacobsen's story , including ASV, Malkin, Ace, Volokh, etc. My story in no way comapres to the severity of what Ms. jacobsen describes,... [Read More]

» Syrian musicians? from Inoperable Terran
Read this, and particuarly read the story he links about the Syrians on the airline. Michelle Malkin has much more on this story, including confirmation of at least the basic facts. Here's the LGF thread on it and Michele's take... [Read More]

» Don't panic just yet from Maladjusted
The blogsphere is slightly a buzz today about a story from Annie Jacobsen. If it means anything, I found the story to be a giant load of crap. It is more comforting to think it's crap, but the story seems too unreal to be true. Something out of a T... [Read More]

» On the road again from She Who Will Be Obeyed!
I have been home for four weeks. Driving into the cubicle farm office. My boss needed me here for awhile, but I take off tomorrow for Hershey, Pennsylvania. I will hopefully come back home on Thursday afternoon. I imagine that... [Read More]

» The Annie Jacobsen Rorshach test from Daniel W. Drezner
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that maybe -- just maybe -- ideology is affecting people's responses to the Annie Jacobsen story. From the right: Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Shaunti Feldhahn. For her, this is a story... [Read More]

» Are Terrorists Brazenly Rehearsing For Another 911? from The Moderate Voice
Are terorrists blatantly rehearsing on airplanes for another 911, doing dry runs about who will stand where and how to place their suicidal troops? It certainly sounds that way. And it sounds like except for some news reports trickling out, [Read More]

» Planes, Trains, and Middle Eastern Men from The Kudzu Files
The story of Northwest Flight 327 on June 29 is making the rounds in the blogosphere. I've read the original article; I've seen blog entries about it, and related stories, at MicheleMalkin.com, A Small Victory, and The Moderate Voice. Joe... [Read More]


I would err on the side of caution. What if the plane landed and we got egg on our face? I'd rather have egg on my face than another three thousand dead Americans.
A fact not in dispute is that Norman Minetta's FAA is fining airlines for checking too many Muslims per flight. That alone is enough to make me say that if I can't walk, drive or get there by horseback, I ain't going.

On the whole, I'd rather be alive and disputing a racist label than ashes in a crater.

I don't know. Reads a lot like "agenda fiction" to me. Until I read about this article in the blogosphere I had never heard of Women's Wall Street. (I don't live in a box under a bridge!)

I conclude it's a great way to get some free advertisement. Also to have your say on how the powers that be still don't seem to be getting airport security correct.

I don't want this to be true either. I suppose the thing that bothers me most is the fines imposed on airlines for detaining more than two young middle Eastern men during screening. I'm researching the particulars of that right now.

I think the important thing to remember is that this isn't 'ethnic' profiling; it's criminal profiling. To me, that means that since every single hijacker to date has been a 20-30 year old male of middle Eastern descent, guess what? That's the demographic that should be scrutinized. Thoroghly. And just because we must act with the understanding that most people who fall within that demographic are perfectly fine doesn't mean we are can't admit that every hijacker so fas has fallen within that demographic. We're not talking about rounding people up and sending them to camps. We're talking about asking them a few more questions. And that doesn't mean we stop looking at other travelers, either. Just pay special attention to those.

And speaking of rounding people up and sending them to camps, I might be waaaaayyy of base here so I'm willing to be schooled, but what is Norman Mineta's background? Is he Japanese? If so, I wonder what effect the US's deplorable actions towards the Japanese in WWII has had on his life or the life of his family and does that have any effect on his decision making today?

Just curious.

True or untrue, it never hurts to be prepared and to think about the possibility of this being a reality.

To abjure profiling out of hand is another triumph of hope over experience. Profiling need not be racially discriminatory, though undoubtedly it will always be construed as such by some. The simple fact of the mater is that our past comfort level and generic trust in our fellow man is gone for a long time.

The best analogy I can come up with in short order is discovering your child stealing something from your purse. You don't just assume all your children are now theives, nor do you automatically assume the child you caught can never be trusted again. But a level of trust has been violated and it will take a long, long time to get it back. The leash is pulled close and you only let it out slowly over time until it you finally feel that it can once again be released altogether.

I'm not saying this is fair to those who might legitimately endure hardships due to the profiling, but as many have noted, the likelihood of 16 Syrian men on a plane being up to no good is somewhat greater than the likelihood of 16 Norwegian grandmothers. Perhaps it would be easier for us to restore our faith in our fellow man had more Arabs and Muslims been more forthright in their opposition to terrorism and with their support for freedom. Alas, in the ensuing vacuum it is natural for the rest of us to circle the wagons somewhat for self defense.

My apologies if this comes across as an us versus them rant, but this is how it appears to one living in the Dar al-Harb.

Victor Davis Hanson's statement that "the side that wins commits the fewest mistakes,rather than no errors at all"needs to be heeded.Adulation of PC tactics does not make us safer.I would rather make some mistakes and apologize after than just lay down and take it.

This guy suggests that the Muslims were actually at their daily prayers:


Makes sense to me. More so than an "aborted terrorist plot" involving 14 Syrian musicians.

I recommend adding Gavin DeBecker's The Gift of Fear to your summer reading list.

IMO, Her story is not full of holes or too much detail. It is just what a writer would do. (As james woods would try to observe reality as a "movie"). She does what she knows, observes and records, as much as she can (which isn't going to be everything) about a situation that makes that makes alarm bells go off.

Her intuition was informing her intellect, and she has recorded it, analyzed it, and shared it, because it's what she can do. IMO, what she SHOULD do. Looking back on why she was afraid, she can deconstruct it.

The last time I ignored my observations and intuitions observations, because I didn't want to be "racist", I put myself in grave danger, and it won't happen again.

I don't understand the reticence to make travel difficult for foreign national troubadours from a nation hostile to the US. It should be difficult.

It seems logical to me that large group of Syrian males coordinating unusual behaviour on a
plane and one by one carrying objects into a place where they cannot be observed, should be prevented from doing so.

And yes, I think foreign nationals from nations hostile to the US should, under conditions where they are flying as a group, when there are outstanding terrorist threats and credible itelligence about terrorist action dry runs, to have to have their orthopedic shoes removed and examined.

Do you think this activity is going to go unchecked on any future flight, now that this story is widely circulated? It is going to throw a monkey-wrench into dry and/or wet runs of bathroom bomb assembly.

My sister is flying to New York for the weekend, I suggested she deplane if she feels anything is the least out of the ordinary, to pay attention.

But should she be on the flight, and observe suspicious bathroom bunches, to get with other women and hog the bathrooms. And check and check again the bathrooms while they are in there.

And to pester and bug, in a polite way, passengers similar to what Annie Jacobsen observed, simply to throw of their rythm and uncoordinate their careful plans.

We are NOT wrong in our strong desire to protect ourselves and our own.

In our rush to guarantee the liberties of all concerned, including our potential enemies, we risk over-compensating, which will ultimately imperil us even more.

In all of this, I hear very little from so-called Moderate Islam.

The musicians in the story were Syrian nationals. Syria is hardly neutral in that it is known to sponsor transnational terrorism.

I suggest that nations such as Syria have an obligation to police their own, or, by their own inaction, continue to subject their citizens to heightened levels of scrutiny.

When are the members of the worldwide Islamic community going to be held to account for the actions of their own?

When is Islam going to accept responsibility for it's mutant offshoots?

One thing is clear, this threat did not come to being out of thin air, and it damn sure didn't originate in the USA.

The decision is simple. Allow airlines to discriminate in whom they allow aboard. Some airline will increase security by forbidding more than 2 Muslims aboard a plane at one time, word will get around, and the market will decide if they were foolish or visionary.

My hunch, ever since 9/11, has been that the next "big attack," whatever it might be, will target anything but commercial aviation.

Looking at it from a terrorist planner's perspective, targeting air travel is just too risky now. Yes, we're sort of blundering about with our airport security, but we've got a lot of people doing the blundering now, and even though our security's a lot less than 100%, the odds would still not be good for enacting a repeat of 9/11. Chances of getting caught before you get in the air are unacceptably high, especially compared to the multitude of other possible avenues of attack that have attracted much less attention.

Plus, there's the paradigm shift in airline hijackings. The era of "just cooperate and you won't be hurt" is dead and cremated. As soon as terrorists start trying to pull something in the air, they'll be facing a planeload of mortal enemies who will fight you to the death.

Trying another airliner-based scheme just strikes me as a low-percentage strategy for the terrorists.

On the other hand, I'm not all that confident in my analysis, since we're not exactly dealing with the most rational bunch of people....

If these passengers were indeed doing a dry run for an attack, we're in deep shit.

Maybe, maybe not. Assuming for the moment the story is not a hoax - if it was a dry run - and I was reporting back to a cell about the results - the fact that they I was met, surrounded by the feds and interrogated, etc. would tell me that perhaps the plan wouldn't work. Time for Plan B, C, D, or E perhaps

Yeah they were praying......
WEre they on the way to a convention or something? 14? All at once?
And the percentage of population is?

One thing I was thinking is that it'd be awfully hard (impossible?) for a group of Syrians, musicians or not, to travel in the U.S., what with Syria being on the terrorist sponsor list.

FWIW, a google search on "syrian musicians 'united states'" shows it's not impossible, at any rate. Here's a story about a Syrian quintet that did a recent U.S. tour:


I wonder where these Syrian 'musicians' were playing? Is there any billing that would corraborate their story?

If a plane I was riding on were hijacked, what would I do? No question in my mind, I'd sacrifice my life to kill the hijackers and make my fucking way to the cockpit. After 9/11, there is no such thing as a hijacking that will end well, in my mind. A hijacking today is pretty much a death sentence, so it's just a matter of how you want that death sentence played out. Myself, I plan on going down swinging, if it comes to that. And I think most of the passengers would probably be right there beside me.

I read the article too. Also, never heard of "Women's Wall Street" before today, and I'm pretty well-versed in news sources.

At first, I was kind of appalled and scared. And then I thought a bit:

A pet tiger gets shot in Florida and it's splashed all over the news.

Martha Stewart gets sent up the river and there's a cadre of pundits to discuss and debate.

Huge amounts of ink, electrons, and vocal blathering are spilled over a new suggestion that people's LDL cholesterol be below 100.

We get fed every vague threat in the "war on terror" with suggestions like buying duct tape and plastic wrap.

And yet, an apparent attempted dry-run of a highjacking, WITH arrests (AFAIK) doesn't get a peep out of the notoriously blood-n-guts, let's-scare-'em-all mass media?

Something rings false to me. Part of it is, I want to BELIEVE it's not true, part of it is....weren't they pulling emergency landings on airliners a few months ago when a passenger was a bit too drunk, or a bit disruptive? As in, land in Knoxville instead of going on to Boston, haul the idiot off in cuffs, then take off again?

I hope to see some kind of clarification in a day or two as to whether this story is a hoax or not. (I'm betting "hoax" right now, but am reserving a tiny bit of judgement because it's not totally outside the realm of possibility, just outside the realm of probability).

Then there is this - have to wait and see what the results of the air samples are. They should probably check the bathroom and in the chemical pile at the bottom of the toilet to see if there is anything strange in there. Double checking the passenger lists for anyone that might raise an eyebrow would be prudent also. Dry run or small scale test?

More than likely just paranoia on my part but better safe than sorry.


LINTHICUM, Md. July 16, 2004 — At least two passengers became ill aboard a flight from Houston as it was approaching Baltimore-Washington International Airport Thursday night, an airline spokesman said.


There is a little bit more at the link, not much but I didn't want to just paste the whole thing here.

I posted the following in the comments over at Stephen Green's blog. It's my suggestion on what to do in a hijack situation. I'm curious as to what other people think should be done in such a situation.

A few years ago I got a 1st Dan (lowest level of black belt) in Tae Kwon Do. That was the culmination of four years of intensive study, typically 10 hours a week in the dojang, and another 20 hours a week working out. I was also an instructor in college for four years. I haven't done much with it since I moved to DC four years ago, so I'm pretty rusty. Here's what I hope I'd be able to do, in such a situation:

1. Once something goes down, find a shield. It doesn't even have to be a hard surface. Get a piece of luggage, or your seat cushion.

2. Charge down the aisle towards the hijacker. In a post 9/11 world, some fellow passengers are bound to be inspired by your example and rush with you. At least, you'd better damn well hope so. Try to close the distance in as little time as possible. Hold your shield out in front of you, with both arms bent, to absorb any blows. It helps if you shout a battle cry (or kiai, if you study the martial arts). It will throw your attackers off balance by startling them, it will alert eveyone else on the plane that they had better help you or they are in big trouble, and most importantly, it tends to help overcome fear.

Kiai, from Japanese, literally means "spirit shout", and it's exactly that. It is summoning the spiritual strength within you to help perform seemingly impossible physical actions. A good kiai can let someone punch through cinder blocks. A good kiai will will startle an opponent and make you feel as if you can take on an army. Trust me on this. It's just a very short yell.

Just scream and run at them, it's that simple.

3. Throw yourself at the nearest hijacker. Try to smother his weapon with your shield, and ram into him as fast and hard as possible. The goal is to knock the guy clean off his feet, and then scamble to get on top of him while he's still on the floor. If it's within arms reach, grab whatever weapon he was carrying and use it on him. If he has a knife, stab him in the throat, eyes, or upper chest until he stops twitching.

If you can't get a weapon, or he still has it, don't try to wrestle it away from him, you'll probably lose. Instead, start delivering blows with your elbows and knees to the following areas: eyes, ears, nose, throat, solar plexus, groin. A good wack on the bridge of the nose will make the assailant's eyes water up, preventing him from fighting effectively. Also, if you can knock the wind out of the guy, he's easy pickings. If he can't breathe, he can't fight.

Try to avoid using punches and kicks if at all possible. These movements use more distance than kneeing or elbowing someone, which means that they tend to telegraph themselves, they take longer to connect and are difficult to use in a close quarters. Also, punching someone involves far more joints than merely elbowing them, so the chances of injuring yourself in the process rise. The elbow is a mass of bone, with few nerves (if you hit with the right part). A good elbow delivered to the temple, when lying on top of someone, could very well kill them. It will certainly knock them senseless for a good few seconds, and that's all you need.

A good stiff elbow to the front of the neck will tend to make someone settle down quickly. Also, try to get your fingers into their eye sockets. I know it sounds terrible, but if you can jamb your thumb through their eye socket and into their frontal lobes, then game is pretty much over for them. I don't care how willing they are to die for Allah, no-one enjoys having someone apply pressure to their eyeballs. If you can't do anything else, just claw at their eyes. You only have to scratch a cornea (not terribly hard to do) to take someone out of a fight. If you can't see, you can't fight.

Don't try to take prisioners. Kill, and kill quickly. Keep killing until the only people left standing are passengers and flight crew. If they give up, kill them anyway. The authorities will certainly understand, and it's not like the hijackers' Saudi and Jordinian relatives are going to sue you. Don't take the chance. Show no mercy, for they will have none for you.

Bear in mind, the chances of being stabbed in thir process are approaching certaintly. This is another reason to kiai as you charge, since it tends to flood the body with adrenalin, which will help deal with pain. The human body is quite resilient, and I would estimate that about 98% of stab wounds are survivable, and won't leave anything more than a scar in the long run. Also, with the shield you should probbaly only receive injuries to your forearms (so-called "defensive wounds"), which will tend to bleed, but won't kill you. Unless they knick an artery, you'll survive.

To summarize: find a shield, charge while shrieking your head off, ram yourself into them (while trying to kock them over and their weapon out fo their hand), fling yourself on top of them and deliver a flurry of blows to their eyes, temples, throat, sloar plexus and groin. Repeat as necessary. Don't stop until they have stopped twitching.


Thanks for the advice. It sounds and may save lives in time of an emergency on a plane.

...I'd think an apropriate kiai would sound a lot like "Let's Roll"

Michele, do you know how to provoke a thought or what?

If anyone cares:
I have had a lot of questions about this article since I read it, so I used my sources as a financial/business reporter at a NYC paper to look into it. Here is what I came up with in no particular order:

1. Women's wall street is a valid site, obviously, that I have looked at any number of times. It is a privately held financial advisor for women that is profitable. Everything my source said checks out; I spoke to the sites major investors--IBM and Microsoft.

2. Anne jacobson is real, according to their head of investor relations, and has written numerous articles for them across a variety of subjects. She took that flight and on those dates as well. SHe is slated to be on MSNBC today. The editor in chief of the site, Pam Duffy, was willing to discuss AJ in further detail.

3. A source at the FBI confirmed the broad outlines of what she laid out here. he confirmed the flight and that she was on it. Most importantly, he confirmed that the next wave of bombings will be modular, with 8-10 people bringing the outlines of a bomb and assembling it en route.

4. I asked what could be done. He said "nothing short of" and then he trailed off.

Whether it happened exactly that way I cant tell. The FBI guy said it was corraborated and that is the story they were operating off of.

just in case you care.

Cadrys: If it works for you, do it. Mine would probably be, "Now watch this drive, bitch!"

drew: Please don't take me for an expert. A 1st Dan is a dime-a-dozen in this country. As my Sabunim (master instructor) used to tell me, "You aren't a student until you're a black belt."

The point of that being that what works for me won't work for everyone else. I'm a short, stocky little man who has a surprisingly high tolerance for pain and a rotten attitude to match. Judging from his website, I probably closely resemble Pejman Yousefzadah, except more muscular. A short, skinny woman with stick-thin limbs would probably have some trouble with the scenario I suggested. A very tall, lanky man would have troubles all his own. But what I suggested should give most people a fighting chance at survival, you might have to tweak it to fit your own conditions.

Interesting comment about it being prayer time. IIRC muslim prayers require washing prior to. Of course my wife and children are flying this weekend, so the article does freak me our regardless.

Use your belts, put your carry-ons under the seat, throw anything you have at them. Shoes, computers, books, anything you've got.

Pens can be pushed 2" into a body part.

What a bunch of paranoid fucks. She cites Ann Coulter fer chrisakes!

Who in thier right minds think the next attack is gonna be via a highjacking?

Im 6'4 230 so that may be true. But I do appricate what you wrote. I will be flying next month so its good to keep those ideas in back of my head.

I'd rather be a paranoid fuck than have an abysmally unretentive memory, Earl.


Frankly, I stopped thinking it was 100% true when I got to the point that she quoted Ann Coulter as some sort of terrorism authority (with a handy link to her website, of course).

hehe...Well at the very least this story allows us to see why anyone would think another hijacking would work. We are all in denial...

The people on the plane were in denial and apparently too terrified to move. We are in denial because, well because its so damn inconvient for it to be true.

I think one of the most important things we need to remember is that the terrorists by and large hold us in contempt. They believe we are cowards of the first order and that our fears will allow them to do almost anything. They attacked the WTC twice, there is nothing that says they wont use the most successful method of attack ever against the US again. I mean sheesh unless they have a nuclear device nothing else could screw us over like another airborne attack.

Michelle Malkin has already confirmed this story. And as far as Ann Coulter you might want to take a look at the TSA rules regarding searching to see just how accurate Ann is about the absurdity of our system.

We are being cased, we will be attacked, and when it happens we will sit there dumbfounded for a period of time unable to believe it is happening again.

With a huge crater in NYC, a successful attack against the center of our military headquarters and more of us dead than in any other single attack against our civilians, we still dont believe we are at war.

We are...they are still trying to kill us. Fear or not, absurd or not, we cannot allow false bravado to hinder our actions against this enemy. He has done more to damage us than any other enemy....that says alot considering our enemies.


willow, Mineta is Japanese, and he and his family spent WWII in an internment camp. I know I have read speculation that this colors his views on things like racial profiling, but I can't recall whether he has ever spoken to this himself.

Based on the Malkin links, this report seems genuine to me, at least in the broad strokes. Their intentions may have been misinterpreted, but it does not seem to be a hoax.

Rod, thanks, I was just going to post that Women's Wall Street was "real" - I've been reading it for ages.

I'm actually surprised that so many were saying they smell hoax... I don't at all.

I await further confirmation on the Womens Wallstreet story only because I want to see the Wash Post (apparently sitting on the story for days) made to eat crow. If the story is apocryphal, it doesn't alter the fundamental debate. What will we do to defend ourselves? Will we bow to PC and not screen out the killers in our midst? If not, they will hurt us badly. But even if they do, I figure they get one, maybe two, more shots at us, before we change the rules. The longer we live in denial, guided by Norm Dimwita (sorry, Mineta), the more drastic the course-corrections we will ultimately be forced to make. It may just be a tougher screening policy. It may be deportation of vast groups based on ancestry or affiliation. It may be a nuke on Mecca. It won't be pretty.

Must read


Earl - do you think it would be less of a paranoid rant had she listed a link to MoveOn? Or maybe DU? After all - there is lots of non-conspiracy level headed logical thinking that comes out of those sites. (I typed that and didn't even snicker once).

Don't let your rage-against-the-right blind you to reality.

This is why I fly armed, every time. I'll see your box cutter and raise you a cue-ball in a sock.

Carry some sharp pencils. Nobody is going to hijack anything with a pencil stuck in their kidney. Canes are allowed on airplanes, as are knitting needles according to federal regulations.

This is also why I began studying Krav Maga, aka Jew Jitsu. Not only is it effective as hell, I love the irony if I had to use Israeli beatdown techniques on a jihadi.

This guy suggests that the Muslims were actually at their daily prayers:

Right, because we all know you can't pray to Allah without a Big Mac handy.

I'm amused by how many people are posting what-if scenarios based on a possible hijacking.

Re-read the article. They're not after a hijacking; they're after trying to assemble a bomb while in flight.

They mayn't even have weapons. If they complete the assembly in time, they don't need them.

I have felt secure about flying post 9-11 because of the "General Militia of Flight 93," the reaction of the passengers and crew to the “Shoe Bomber,” and the assurance given to a friend who is a flight attendant that several pilots have said they will not allow their plane to be commandeered by hijackers. Even though everyone lived happily ever after in Jacobsen's story, it still shook my feeling of security.

Malkin has confirmed that all of those agencies met the plane when it landed. Given that, at least some flight attendants or passengers were scared enough to phone them. think that through, whether or not you trust THIS rendition.

and get this: whether or not it's all accurate (do you know any band that as 14 people in it anymore?), you know this much: the FAM can't act without AN EVENT. That's not good enough. I'm sorry, but i'm not waiting until our only remaining options are crash the plane in rural midwest or have it shot down by the Air Force. Are you willing to stake your life on the pontificating statement "oh, they wouldn't try again by air" ? Are you?

over 3000 dead. over 3000 dead. When will you decide that "paranoid" is better than dead?

What... she read Jason Burke's piece and crafted a creative writing exercise to the theme? I mean, I don't want to believe it either. But these days, it's not all that UNbelievable, is it?

"Are people, given the abundance of threats hitting the airwaves these days, seeing things that aren't there?"

Maybe. But I think that people ARE definitely more aware of their surroundings these days (especially on a plane), and understandably take notice of things they may not have given a second thought three years ago. The most frustrating part of that story - and possibly the one thing that tilts it into the realm of believability for me - was the FAM's response about not being able to do anything because there was no "event." Holy Chit! If there's an event, isn't it too late??? Another thing, those guys going to the bathroom all the time... now, after a couple of cups of coffee on a four and a half hour flight, I'm definitely going to be standing cross-legged at the lavatory several times waiting for that red "Occupied" sign to turn green. Not too suspicious. But to walk in with a full McD's bag and return with it empty (why didn't he toss the empty bag away in the bathroom?) - a little weird, I guess. Who knows?

Let me be entirely unPC.

Cancel all visas of all people from all hostile nations and don't let any more visit until such time the Islamofascists are as much a threat as the KKK. Syrian band? Let them get a gig in France.

If I were on a plane that was hijacked, I'd have my hands on some throat, and my foot up some ass. Even in freefall, god willing.
Also I want them to know that I'll be there interupting the meeting with those 72 virgins.
It is ok to fear them as long as it doesn't paralyze you.
I once was a blind wrestler, and would use that experience.

If I am at the ballpark and a group woman are waiting to get into somewhere am I chauvinest if I don't look at the sign and assume it is the womans room?

We have a right to our own fears. Arab men acting unusually on an airplane frighten people ....That's not prejudice .That's common sense.

Did anyone see the musical instrments?It would seem the "band" would have congragated at the luggage pick up.

Personally I'd rather be wrong than wake up to another Sept. 11, 2001.

Once was enough, thank you very much.

And frankly I don't care that some Arab-ish men may get hassled - I'm sorry THEY ARE THE TERRORISTS TRYING TO KILL US!

If terrorists suddenly start looking like Claudia Schifer than I would expect anyone who looked like her to get pulled aside and asked some friggin' questions. Oh boo hoo you get asked some questions by some guy barely making above minimum wage who would rather be at home watching TV. How sad for you.


No one wants to say it, but when racial profiling is justified, it's not a bad thing. Political correctness is going to get a lot of people killed in the near future.

I suggest everyone adopt my solution, which has worked for me for 15 years. Don't fly. ;)

Uh, one thing: cough*McVeigh*cough.

Seriously, there is a bit of an element of fighting the last war here, mixed with a certain convenient racism. Darleen above certainly is an outlier, but in general, the impulse toward widescale profiling is a tad beside the point. The would-be shoe bomber, of course, was a British national named Richard Reid (whose real name turned out to be, well, Richard Reid). Even Darleen's modest proposal would have failed to stop him, unless we placed our staunchest European ally among the banned. My opinion is that future large-scale terrorist actions on U.S. soil are likely to involve people even less suspicious and detectable than the 9/11 bastards.

I'm not a head-in-the-sand guy, and not overly concerned with being PC. I don't think it would be terrible for Middle Eastern nationals traveling on U.S. flights to cheerfully (or at least resignedly) submit to a little extra scrutiny; the vast majority of them are perfectly innocent, of course, and that should be easy for trained professionals to suss out quickly. But a wave of indiscriminate profiling would be an ineffective crutch, providing a false sense of security. It wouldn't protect us against the next Richard Reid, or Timothy McVeigh, or some blond Chechen-American who's fallen into radical Islam (a scenario from TNT's new series "The Grid").

The better, more effective course is the harder one: seeking a serious improvement in our human-intelligence capabilities, with an eye toward infiltrating and breaking up terror cells and networks before they can strike. Our free society makes the task more difficult, but not impossible. We can accept (and have accepted) certain inroads on our liberty in exchange for greater security--but we must not go so far that we hand the terrorists a victory. I hesitate to cast aspersions on Norm Mineta's reticence to put other families through a version of what his went through. An America with internment camps is an America subverting its own ideals.

I'm not commenting at some rarified distance from the terror war's front lines, either. I work across the street from Ground Zero and travel through Grand Central Terminal every day. But I'm too patriotic to accept that our reasonable caution should metastasize into something that makes us ashamed of our flag and country.

Thank you, John. That's a really reasonable and well thought-out post.

It's very dangerous to underestimate Al Queada. They do the unexpected! And John is absolutely right, the Chechen situation has to give great pause. I say, check everyone out closely, not just brown-skinned people. The odds are realistic that the next 9/11 could be executed by Nordics out of Chechnya, in coalition with Al Queada, given bin Laden's history re the Soviets. If a white person is acting suspiciously, will you even notice? If not, that's all the opening Al Queada needs.