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Flight to JFK Delayed by Search

4 August 2005; Ft. Myers, FL: A Boeing 757 identified as Delta flight 2068, bound from Fort Meyer’s Southwest Regional Airport to JFK then to Cairo, Egypt was grounded and searched after TSA inspectors found interesting contents in the luggage of three passengers.

A search of the luggage of three passengers prompted airport officials to bring the plane back to the gate for a closer inspection of the passengers and baggage. Upon arrival at the gate, bomb sniffing dogs boarded and scoured the plane, once with passengers aboard and again when they had been removed from the plane, but no explosives were found.

The passengers of interest were identified as Atef Wahba, his wife Alice Wahba reportedly of Brooklyn, NY and Anthony Donato, who were detained and questioned at SWFIA as most of the rest of the passengers boarded the jet and continued on to New York. The relationship between the Wahbas and Donato, if any, was not disclosed by authorities. Unnerved at the incident, some passengers opted to take other flights to JFK.

What prompted the grounding was what was found inside of the passengers’ luggage: aircraft diagrams, a large amount of cash and money orders in various denominations, and a number of notes written in Arabic. According to a source at the airport, authorities were also interested in a videotape found inside the luggage, but declined to reveal the contents of the video.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 12:10 PM, but instead took off at 1:03 PM. The three passengers in question were reportedly released later yesterday; the FBI is currently handling the investigation.

Look Who’s Checking Your Bags

by Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

17 July 2005: "I've been screening your bags for the past six months, and you don't even know it." How reassuring. Those are the words of Bassam Khalaf, 21, pictured at left, who worked as a baggage screener at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas from January 16, 2005 until he was terminated on July 7, 2005. Oh, the irony.

Khalaf is of Palestinian descent but was born in Houston. He is also a self-admitted "Arabic Assassin" who supports Islamic Terrorism against America, according to his hip-hop song lyrics. His unreleased CD "Terror Alert" contains lyrics about flying a plane into a building and descriptions of himself as a "crazy, suicidal Arabic . . . equipped with bombs." And if that is not sufficient, he sings in praise the raping, torturing, and murdering of Christians and Blacks, and forcing everyone to perform oral sex on him. He is anti-Semitic and supports violence against women and necrophilia. And he speaks of a plane flying into a building on 9/11/05. And he was hired by the Transportation Security Administration because he had no criminal record. According to Andrea McCauley, a spokeswoman for the regional Transportation Security Administration office in Dallas, the "TSA checks criminal records before hiring screeners, but it does not investigate what people do in their spare time." How much more effort does it take to insert an applicant's name into an Internet search engine?

A simple Internet search by name would have provided a treasure trove of background information about Khalaf and avoided the embarrassing situation of allowing a "Arabic Assassin" to work in a position of security at an airport named after a U.S. president. Obviously, Internet searches are not involved in the screening process. You can bet there are more "Bassam Khalafs" working in sensitive positions in this country because of incomplete and insufficient background investigations and incompetant investigators. We are no safer than we were on September 10, 2001.

Columnist Debbie Schlussel writes about this incident as well as former Detroit screener Sadeq Naji Ahmed, a TSA screener in Detroit, who was dismissed from the Air Force for praising Bin Laden, the 9/11 attacks, and future attacks on America, but then hired by the TSA to screen bags at Metro Detroit Airport. To understand the insanity involved in the system, visit Ms. Schlussel's web site. Meanwhile, know that the TSA has everything under control.


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