Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Travel Tips From The Lying Imams

Reports of the airplane security probe by six US Muslim "clerics" provide us with useful hints on recognizing and defeating hijackers.

The six were part of a group of 140 US Muslim leaders who met with a new Muslim Congressman in Minneapolis last week. On their US Air flight out they either set up an actual hijack or probed for one - gathering information on the effectiveness of airline and ground security.

These "Flying Imams" were removed from the flight and claimed discrimination - hence the post title. This is what you can do faced with the same situation.

Be alert for Muslim males behaving oddly at the departure gate

Muslims are most likely to be of Mideast or Pakistani appearance, but bear in mind that one of the London killers was a black convert and Richard Reid was a white one.

This was the odd behavior of the lying Imams:
...three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding...
If you see such behavior, alert your traveling companions. If one of you has a cellphone with camera, discreetly record the behavior - the cops will need it later.

On boarding, look for the group splitting into hijack formation:
...the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.

...a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous (explained). "They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane."
The team appropriated 2 first class seats:
...The gate agent told police that when the imams asked to be upgraded, they were told no such seats were available. Nevertheless, the two men were seated in first class when removed.
On boarding, you should be alert for arguments with flight attendants and passengers as the pairs take seats not assigned to them. If that happens and you can see the group has split into pairs in the front middle and back of the plane, you are now at high risk of hijack. If possible, start taking discreet photos with your cell.

Look for the team arming itself

In this case:
Three of the men asked for seat-belt extenders, although two flight attendants told police the men were not oversized... Rather than attach the extensions, the men placed the straps and buckles on the cabin floor...
The seat extender makes an effective flail - like the "can in a sock" you use in unarmed combat - and in a hijack it would be used to subdue unarmed flight attendants and passengers.

Look for co-ordination


In this case:
A flight attendant said one of the men made two trips to the rear of the plane to talk to the imam during boarding, and again when the flight was delayed because of their behavior.
Look for aggressive behavior

In this case:
...witnesses told law enforcement that the men spoke in Arabic and English, criticizing the war in Iraq and President Bush, and talking about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
That tells you it's probably a security probe - in an actual hijack they'd stay quiet. Still, real hijackers might calculate that an aggressive display reduces their chances of being ejected.

What to do


Raise the alarm immediately the group splits into the hijack seating formation. If the crew won't eject the team, you should deplane, explaining why. On your way out try to use your cellphone to take pictures or the the team and its weapons.

If you can't deplane, use your cellphone to call 911 (112 in Europe, 999 in the UK) and ask the cops to stop the flight. Send them any pictures you've taken to help make the case.

If the cops can't or won't stop the flight, work with the other passengers to prepare for a United 93 type battle. Fit and well trained passengers should re-seat themselves behind the rearmost pair, disable them, then work forward.

None of which is an incitement to go round attacking innocent Muslims - but if they pass all of the above tests, they aren't innocent.

Finally, the safest thing to do right now is fly US Air.