Thursday, October 29, 2009

‘Flying Imam’ Out-of-Court Settlement Has Chilling Implications for Security of American Citizens

Pam Meister

We’ve all been told that falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is not covered under “free speech. However, it seems that shouting “Allah Allah Allah!” while playing Musical Chairs on a crowded airplane is not only free speech, but a matter of “civil rights.”

Remember the case of the “flying imams?” (No, it’s not a Nancy Drew mystery.) Back in November of 2006, six Islamic clerics were booked to fly from Minneapolis to Phoenix on US Airways Flight 600. According to worried passengers, the imams not only prominently prayed at the gate, cursed U.S. policies in Iraq and discussed Osama bin Laden but once on board, scattered to various seats throughout the aircraft and even made a show of trading places. Two asked for seat belt extenders, although neither was overweight. Passengers also reported hearing them yell, “Allah Allah Allah!”

Worried for the safety of his plane and its passengers, the pilot ordered them removed and they were held at the airport until the FBI arrived.

The concern at the time, of course, was whether this was a “dry run,” testing security procedures for a possible future hijacking – not inconceivable based upon regrettable past experience.

When the imams filed suit against the passengers, the airline and airport security, a law was passed by Congress that would protect citizens who, in good faith, reported such suspicious behavior to law enforcement. The Department of Transportation ruled that the airline had acted properly. However, Judge Ann Montgomery of the U.S. District Court in Minnesota allowed the remaining portion of the lawsuit, backed by CAIR, to proceed because she ruled that the “John Doe” law did not apply to law enforcement officers.

This week, a settlement between airport police and the imams was announced, although the terms of the settlement were not released.

"The settlement of this case is a clear victory for justice and civil rights over fear and the phenomenon of 'flying while Muslim' in the post-9/11 era," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We thank all those who supported the imams through the lengthy and difficult legal process."

Civil rights? As the New York Daily News said, “Rosa Parks they ain’t.” Civil rights are about being denied basic rights, such as not being able to shop in any store you please or being unable to apply for a job for which you are qualified, because of your color or creed. It was the imams’ behavior that concerned passengers and flight crew, not their appearance.

But there’s much more to this story.

It turns out that Omar Shahin, spokesman for the imams, helped raise funds for the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim “charity” that illegally routed more than $12 million to Hamas. A serious question has been raised: “Was the ‘flying imams’ spectacle really an ‘orchestrated stunt?’”

Either way, the real losers in this case are airline passengers and, possibly, passengers on other types of public transit. While airport police and other officials will certainly do all they can to prevent a terrorist attack from happening, will they hesitate if the suspects are Muslim, for fear of yet another lawsuit? Politically correct nonsense gets in the way of common sense, and Islamists working covertly in the U.S. know it. As I reported earlier this year, noted Islamic scholar Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch has their number:

In reality, Spencer says, America faces the same threat that Israel does from Hamas. But the Muslim Brotherhood working here knows that they won’t get away with lobbing rockets or other violent tactics – thanks to the sharp focus on Islamist organizations after 9/11 – so they must employ other means. They work through organizations allied with them and their cause, including the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Students Association, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, the Islamic Society of North America, and others – including the now-defunct group Islamic Association for Palestine, which gave rise to CAIR. According to Brotherhood spokesmen, they are “working toward this goal of sabotaging Western civilization from within.”

Again, Spencer brings us back to the mainstream media’s role in all of this. “They are working to intimidate the media into being afraid to discuss these issues. And they have succeeded.” Why? “Bigotry and racism are the national traumas, they are the great sins of American history. And so the worst thing you can be in America is a bigot or a racist.” The Islamists in America use this to their advantage, decrying every anti-terrorism initiative as hateful, discriminatory and bigoted and smacking of racial profiling, and portraying any honest discussion of these issues as such. The result is that “most Americans have no idea this is going on, and so they have no idea of what measures can and should be taken to counter it, and so it’s able to proceed unhindered.”

It doesn’t matter that the imams didn’t actually win in court; the settlement is seen by Islamists as a capitulation and further erosion of American values and security – especially coming on the heels of a rash of five separate (homegrown) terror busts within the past couple of months. Add to that the recent case of “good ol’ boy” Daniel Patrick Boyd, a Muslim convert who allegedly headed a terror cell in his native North Carolina and we have a very serious problem.

Until we take the threat of jihad right here at home seriously, we continue to put our security and our very way of life at risk.

Pam Meister is the editor of

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