MAY 30, 2007
The Federal Air Marshal Service tried to cover up its incompetence by issuing false statements about the severity of what happened on a commercial U.S. flight used by 13 Middle Eastern men as a terrorist dry run.
A recently declassified Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report details how the Federal Air Marshal grossly mishandled the serious security breach on the 2004 Northwest Airlines flight from Detroit to Los Angeles.
Twelve of the 13 Middle Eastern men reported by passengers, flight attendants and pilots as acting suspiciously actually had expired visas and were not even in the country legally. They traveled together as a musical group yet split up and acted as if they weren’t acquainted after boarding the plane. Several of them changed seats, loitered in the isles and took lengthy bathroom visits. One took a large fast-food bag into the bathroom and gestured with a thumbs-up upon returning to his seat.
Even the air marshal assigned to the flight characterized the men’s behavior as unusual but no further reports were filed to reflect the severity of the situation. Counterintelligence officials now say it was clearly one of many terrorist dry runs aboard commercial flights since the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Yet the men were released after brief questioning when the plane landed and Federal Air Marshals didn’t even report the incident to the Homeland Security Operations Center until days later when a newspaper wrote about it.
One of the flight’s passengers has also written extensively about the terrifying incident, continues to investigate and posts the information on her web site. Responding to the Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, the woman says it took the U.S. government two years and eleven months to confirm what she has been writing since the flight landed.
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