Terror in the Skies?

I just read this article about one woman’s travel experience on a plane with β€œ14 Middle Eastern men” who were acting suspiciously (Thanks Tania). The article is a bit long but worth it if you have the time. Reading the alarming details of her story I completely understood why she felt her life was in danger. But were these men really up to something? Who knows!!

On June 29, 2004, at 12:28 pm, I flew on Northwest Airlines flight #327 from Detroit to Los Angeles with my husband and our young son. Also on our flight were 14 Middle Eastern men between the ages of approximately 20 and 50 years old. What I experienced during that flight has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats … more

Source: [Womens Wall Street]

8 thoughts on “Terror in the Skies?”

  1. 1) The woman is basically just a paranoid racist
    2) Frankly i’m dissapointed that you would spend your time, much less quote, trashy publications like ‘woman’s wall street’.
    3) The evil Mcdonalds eating, bathroom meeting, terrorists turned out to be simply the singer Nour Mhanna’s band going to a concert (see below).
    4) Honestly, as long as this moron of a writer continues to have such an ignorant, dumb and blatently racist attitude i doubt she will be able to relax and enjoy a flight ever, and im all the happier for that, morons like her simply belong in barns, and shouldn’t be allowed on planes.
    Courtesy of the National Review:

    The Syrian Wayne Newton
    The man inadvertently behind a scare in the skies.
    By Clinton W. Taylor
    Annie Jacobsen’s recent piece for WomensWallStreet.Com made waves. Her account of flying with her family while 14 Middle Eastern passengers acted in a threatening and apparently coordinated manner makes for a terrifying read. Her article captures her sickening sense of both uncertainty and inevitability as what might possibly have been the next 9/11 unfolded around her.
    Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened. On June 29, Northwest Airlines Flight 327 landed safely in Los Angeles and a phalanx of law enforcement greeted the suspicious passengers, whisking them away for some intense interviews. Jacobsen noted a pile of Syrian passports in the hand of a law-enforcement official.
    But the men checked out, and Jacobsen was told that they were “hired as musicians to play at a casino in the desert.” She was not told the name of the band, nor the name of the casino. And as her story made the rounds through the Internet and beyond (the Dallas Morning News printed a condensed version earlier this week), a note of skepticism about her story crept in. Had she imagined the whole thing? Or was the government covering up a “dry run” for another terrorist attack?
    Columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin confirmed some of the details of Jacobsen’s story with the Federal Air Marshal’s service, but the identity of the band remained the subject of much speculation. For a while the blogosphere settled on a Syrian band called Kulna Sawa as a likely candidate, but the gents at Powerline received a note from that group’s tour manager explaining the band was still in Syria when all this happened.
    Even the mainstream media began to notice the story: New York Times reporter Joe Sharkey confirmed some of the details of the story today but admitted he, too, was unable to identify the band.
    Well, I am nominally the “news director” for Stanford University’s student radio station, KZSU, and I figured I’d help the Times out. There aren’t that many casinos in southern California, so I had my research assistant, Mr. Google, take a look at some. An hour later I was talking to the nice folks at Sycuan Casino & Resort, near San Diego. Unlike most casinos where it’s all Elvis impersonators, Paul Anka, and Linda Ronstadt β€” oh, wait, scratch that last one β€” Sycuan books the occasional “ethnic music” show, too. In August, for example, they’ll have a Vietnamese night.
    “Oh, do you mean Arab music?” inquired Angie, who answered Sycuan’s phone. Yes, they had had an Arab act perform on July 1, an artist named Nour Mehana. Terry, Angie’s supervisor at Sycuan, confirmed that he was there and that there was probably a backup band brought in, since there’s no house band at Sycuan. In fractions of a second, Mr. Google found awebsite for Sycuan’s event promoters, Anthem Artists, whose archive confirms Nour Mehana performed at Sycuan on 7/01/04.
    And then I noticed something that was truly terrifying, something linking Nour Mehana to a figure of such repulsive evil that I felt a rush of prickly fear not unlike Jacobsen’s: Just one week later, the same company that arranged Mehana’s performance, also booked Carrot Top!
    I talked to James Cullen of Anthem Artists who confirms that Nour Mehana’s large band did arrive on Northwest Flight 327. Some of them came in from Detroit, and some from Lebanon. Cullen says they never said anything about a disturbance on the flight to him, even though “I stayed in the same hotel, they were nice, they stayed right above me.” He said that they were fine musicians, put on a great show, and he would work with them again in the future.
    Cullen did receive a follow-up e-mail from the Department of Homeland Security, asking him to confirm that the band had played their gig at Sycuan. He had read Jacobsen’s article and concluded that some “people are just paranoid.” A pilot himself, Cullen insisted that the patterns Jacobsen perceived wouldn’t occur to him. “We should take pride in our system. We’ve got to trust our system.” (Cullen made it clear that he opposes “this crazy Bush Iraq war sh*t,” but it is important to bear in mind that Cullen also admitted to booking Carrot Top.)
    Nour Mehana (a.k.a. Noor Mehanna, or Nour Mhanna, plus various permutations of those spellings) is, in fact, Syrian. He performs both “new-agey” hits and old sentimental Middle Eastern classics in a style called Tarab. In [a] catchy ten-minute video of Mehana on stage, you can see he has a rather large backup band helping him out. Followers of news from Iraq may have heard about the U.S. tour of the “Iraqi Elvis.” Well, Mehana comes across not as an angry jihadi, but rather more like the Syrian Wayne Newton.

  2. Wow, Onzlo, thank you for this great reply. Your comment was definetly eye-opening. Ah, by the way, what do you know about this publication?

  3. Well I have to agree with Onzlo. I thought the piece smacked hard of racism. It is typical of the sort of xenophobia that was rampant after the 9/11 attacks. I can understand people would pay attention if there are some odd activities occurring on a plane. But this whole scenario kicks off with her alarm at some “Middle Eastern” men with “strange packages.” I guess a McDonald’s bag can be a bit scary in the wrong hands :-S
    But more to the point, her article is so heavily laden with detail, it seems she thinks she’s got some sort of inside line on what will be the next big disaster with comments like: “[it] has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats”. That kind of crap really pisses me off.
    The wife and I were in agreement that the way it is written you are waiting for the big finish, like to find out these guys are all doing wudoo, or ablution, before a prayer — though that, admittedly, is a bit of a stereotyped ending as well. There are a number of urban legends in the US that read like that and decry racism; the one about Reggie Jackson/Eddie Murphy came to mind here.
    This woman created so much drama in this story, with its “click for more” formatting and so forth, that it was like the script to some TV drama (Perhaps “Not without my daughter”). You just had to figure there’d be a surprise ending pointing out the very problem with stereotyping and the evils of xenophobia.
    But nope, the whole story just ends with a “watch out for Arabs” feel that left me quite disturbed. I wish the author of the article had the rest of the information you provided Onzlo so they could read their article again and feel like the idiot that they’ve clearly proven themselves to be.

  4. I was actually in California at the time this happened.. There was quite an outrage from the Arab-American community over this incident.. I guess it didn’t get as much coverage as it should have..
    Natasha – no offense – but I am a little dissapointed in you for ‘kind of’ believing that her story might be true before getting the whole picture.. You know better than anyone how much the media can and has been able to distort the image of Arabs.. It’s been going on forever and it’s up to people like you (who are blessed with the gift of penmanship) to provide the view from the other side..
    Saying this – I also agree that I cannot judge whether or not I would be this paranoid were I in her shoes.. Americans are being surrounded by fear (a la Fahrenheit 9-11) everywhere they go.. (remember my DC metro incident? http://mothertobe.blogspot.com/2004/06/chapter-24-washington-dc-june-8-2004.html)
    Note to Jeff: Snopes.com rules!! I have developed a habit of actually opening fwds I get from peoplep to research them on Snopes and reply to them with the real deal.. My part in the fight against global spam I guess!!

  5. Look people…ANYONE quoting Ann Coulter is off their rockers…seriously, I mean this woman advocates nuking Mecca. She gets my Bin Laden Bigot of the Year Award. It is a non-cash prize meted out to people who can outdo Bin Laden’s insanity.

  6. I came across this a while back via Muslim Wake-Up. I thought it was an eyeopener because it showed how the media can really make us feel so vulnerable in these times that people react in the way this woman did. let’s not forget that in terms of the media effect, this is post-anthrax, post-duct tape, post-dirty bomb America.

  7. The moment I started reading this article, I knew there was something fishy about it. First off, Jacobson’s story is so detailed. What, did she have her reporter’s note book out and write down all of the movements of these middle eastern men.
    The funny part for me, is when I got to the part where she said there were many middle eastern men sitting in coach, and one midle eastern man in a suit and sunglasses. Right away, I knew that this must be an Arab band, with the singer of course sitting in first class.
    But this has always been an ongoing issue for our favorite arab singers, touring the U.S. I live in Los Angeles, and anytime my family and I have the opportunity to catch one of our fav. arab singers in concert out here, we buy tickets right away. Unfortunately, there have been many times where these concerts have been cancelled due to the arab bands not permitted visas, or the singer and his band would be asked to leave the country.
    As for the author of this article, i truly feel sorry for her, because this all took place in front of her young son. And when i say “this all took place” i am referring to her racist attitude. I just hope one day her son will learn from her, and not act as she did on that plane.

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