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Tipsheet

Northwest Flight Moves On, 12 Arrested Passengers Stay Behind (<strong>Update:</strong> False Alarm Again)

Update: Fox is reporting that Dutch authorities are calling yesterday's diversion of a flight to Mumbai was a false alarm, and the 12 arrests have no connection to terrorism. The 12 men, all Mumbai-born, are being held on charges of disrupting flight.

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Here's yesterday's post on this, in case you're playing catch-up.

Man, they're killin' me with the tight lips. No charges or details yet:

The case of 12 men taken off a U.S. airliner in handcuffs after it was diverted to Amsterdam has been handed over to Dutch prosecutors, who must decide within three days whether to press charges or let them go, police said Thursday.

Customs police spokesman Rob Staenacker said the case was handed over to prosecutors after the suspects underwent initial questioning at Schiphol Airport, and he could not disclose charges against the suspects.

Hmm, terror or no?

The authorities have three days to bring the suspects before a judge and seek further detention. If they are suspected of terrorism, judges can order them held for another 14 days without hard evidence.

Fourteen days? Without evidence? Ack, Bushitlerism has hit Holland! None of us are safe.

And, now for the hearsay! Passengers tell stories. 

The activity:

A U.S. government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said that crew members and air marshals observed the passengers attempting to use cell phones and passing cell phones among themselves while the airliner was taking off.

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The motive:

The Algemeen Dagblad newspaper quoted Nitin Patel of Boston, who sat behind the men in business class, as saying, "I don't know how close we were, but my gut tells me these people wanted to hijack the airplane."

The ethnicity:

A third, who identified herself only as Alpa, told AP Television News some of the men appeared to be of South Asian ethnicity.

The guy who says nothing happened:

Another passenger, who was not identified, told NOS television he sat next to one of the men and saw nothing suspicious.

The flight moved on to Mumbai sans arrested passengers after a 22-hour delay.

The Dutch Justice Minister downplayed the possibility of terror:

Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said on Thursday the return of a U.S. Northwest Airlines plane bound for India to Amsterdam did not seem to have been prompted by a terrorist threat.

"Up until now it does not appear to be terror related," a spokeswoman for the Dutch counter-terrorism office quoted the minister as saying. "There is no indication of a terrorist threat on the plane that returned to Schiphol."

More passenger stories:

"I saw the air marshals run and I knew something was amiss," said another passenger.

Others commented that those arrested were from Asia and aged between 25 and 35.

"Some had beards, others were unshaven, one was wearing a robe. Some had baseball caps," a passenger told the paper.

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And, another guy who says there was nothing "suspicious":

Passenger Sarat Menon told Dutch daily De Telegraaf: "Shortly before the flight I spoke to them in a coffee bar. I didn't detect anything suspicious."

There's talk of a press conference later today. Will keep an eye on it.

No info on nationalities of the those arrested.

If only they had had all the passengers split into "tribes" by race. Then everyone would have been easily identifiable and we'd be promoting diversity at the same time!

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