Suspect video sparks passengers' removal at Baltimore airport

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 17, 2015 10:24 AM

By Jeffrey Dastin and Ian Simpson

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - Four passengers were taken off a Spirit Airlines Inc flight at Baltimore on Tuesday after one who appeared to be Muslim viewed what another passenger thought was an Islamic State video, a government source said.

Initial checks of the three men and a woman and their baggage found nothing suspicious, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Spirit said that the incident took place when Flight 969 from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Chicago O’Hare International Airport was taxiing to the runway.

"A passenger alerted a flight attendant of a passenger engaged in suspicious activity on board," it said. The plane returned to the gate, and police removed the four.

The government source said a female passenger who appeared to be Muslim was watching a video on her phone that another passenger thought was from Islamic State. The militant group has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris on Friday that killed 129 people.

WJLA television in Washington reported that the four passengers appeared to be in their early 30s and of Middle Eastern ancestry. They were carrying several backpacks.

A woman got up and went to the back of the plane with a small child as the plane was preparing for takeoff, said WJLA, an ABC affiliate.

First Sergeant Jonathan Green, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority police, said one of the four had been questioned and released.

All passengers were deplaned and the aircraft and luggage cleared. Flight tracking website said the plane took off at 9:27 a.m. EST, about 3-1/2 hours late.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson and John Clarke in Washington and Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)