The hubbub raised over six Islamic imams being removed from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis for suspicious behavior is the latest in a string of incidents underlining one consistent thread in the war on terror: Muslim terrorists have never given up on the tried-and-true idea of hijacking airplanes and blowing them up to kill and demoralize the infidels.
Police and witness reports suggest a list of suspicious activities and remarks. Some of the imams were discussing in Arabic about "bin Laden" and condemning America for "killing Saddam." Imams asked for seat belt extenders for the extremely obese, for no apparent reason. (Did you know such extenders even existed?) The imams spread out at all exits of the plane, two in front, two in the middle, two in the rear. Between the six imams, they had one piece of checked luggage.
There have been some seriously frightening moments since 9-11. Just a few months later, foiled "shoe bomber" Richard Reid was arrested on board American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami for attempting to light explosives hidden in his shoes. In court, he declared his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and was convicted in 2003 and sentenced to life in prison.
On March 5, 2003, Fazal Karim, an illegal immigrant from Pakistan, attempted to board an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Houston when screeners found in his luggage 32 razor blades concealed within a box containing a coiled belt. He was convicted of attempting to conceal weapons and making false statements about his immigration status, and sentenced to five years in prison.
On June 29, 2004, journalist Annie Jacobsen complained about the very suspicious behavior of a group of Middle Easterners during a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles. When the plane landed, they were detained, and though the Department of Homeland Security would later report that they were a band of Syrian musicians en route to a gig in Las Vegas, Jacobsen learned that DHS also decided to classify the entire report. Why classify it if nothing was amiss?
On Aug. 10, British authorities thwarted a plot to simultaneously blow up 10 aircraft heading to the United States using explosives smuggled in luggage, averting what police described as "mass murder on an unimaginable scale." Some plotters had already purchased tickets on a flight to stage a test run, with an actual attack planned for days later.
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