July 10, 2002

TERRORISTS ON A TEST RUN? This story sounds alarmingly like the one told by James Woods. Only it’s from March.

UPDATE: Reader Frederick Larsen sends this note:

My sister is an America West employee (in Phoenix) who works at the boarding gates. She told me that last week boarding of a flight was disrupted by the presence of a group of 3 obviously Arabic men. Apparently they were not carrying or checking any luggage, were praying in the terminal (and a passenger alerted my sister’s boyfriend — also an America West gate employee — that they were praying about some pretty odd stuff, things that make you very anxious – I guess she understood Arabic). Of course, this had a bunch of the passengers very nervous. The pilots didn’t want to fly. Some supervisor apparently then interviewed the people and checked them out somehow and determined that they were not terrorists and cleared the flight for departure. Apparently about a dozen people chose not to take that flight.

This incident was scary enough for me to hear about, but to then hear that similar things are happening in other parts of the country REALLY makes me

worried.

Well, on the one hand you could say that this story proves the sytem worked. A reasonable suspicion led to a followup, which determined that everything was okay, and it was. I wonder, though: would a dozen passengers have been unwilling to fly with the woman who asked if the pilots were drunk? Probably not. But she wasn’t allowed to fly after further inquiry — she was bumped to another flight entirely.

Airline security is a joke. And it’s not a funny joke.

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