Passengers removed from a plane at the Baltimore – Washington International Airport are being questioned, evidently for being Muslim. The four passengers were taken off the plane as they awaited clearance to take off for Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. The individuals – three men and a woman who were all carrying backpacks – were detained and investigated. Three are still in custody, though no charges have been filed.
Reports Reuters news service on Nov. 17: “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.”
According to witnesses, the passengers became tense after it appeared that a woman, of Muslim descent, was watching an “ISIS video” on her cell phone as the plane was preparing to taxi. The passengers alerted the flight staff, and the plane returned to the gate. The woman and her three companions – described as Middle Eastern and in the early 30s – were questioned by airport police and TSA officials.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks, including the Paris suicide bombings that left nearly 130 dead and close to 400 injured. ISIS has since stated that Washington DC is its next potential target. “I swear to God, as we struck France in its stronghold Paris, we will strike America in its stronghold, Washington,” an unnamed ISIS militant declared in a video released Monday.
Officials have not released whether the video being watched by the woman – who also had a young child with her – was indeed related to ISIS.
According to Washington’s WJLA.com, ABC7 reporter Suzanne Kennedy was on Flight NK969, and said that after the four individuals were deplaned, another three were named on the public address system and removed before the flight was allowed to leave.
Spirit Airlines released a statement, which said, in part:
“Spirit Airlines flight 969… experienced a delay this morning due to law enforcement activity. While the aircraft was taxiing to the runway, a passenger alerted a flight attendant of a passenger engaged in suspicious activity on board. The flight attendant notified the captain, and out of an abundance of caution, the plane returned to the gate. Law enforcement officers removed four passengers from the plane for questioning.”
The recent terrorist attacks have undoubtedly created an uptick in allegations of suspicious activity against Muslims, though even the Muslim community has roundly condemned the Paris attacks. Is this a case of “see something, say something,” or do you think these passengers were kicked off for simply being Muslim?