The runway to Flight 253

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

5 January 2009: Next to overt acts of terrorism, intimidation is a most powerful weapon in the arsenal of Islamic terrorists in their war against the U.S. and the West. Acquiescence to intimidation is celebrated by our enemies as much as images of planes striking U.S. buildings. Although it lacks the same level of visual impact, it cuts as deep within the fabric of our security and way of life. It is a tactic that is currently being used adeptly against ordinary citizens, businesses, law enforcement, politicians, and even our judiciary by Islamists intent on imposing their agenda on the West. Their objective is to dominate and ultimately eliminate our Western society from within. Their stealth tactic is intimidation.

Witness, for example, the results of the Christmas Day bombing attempt on Delta-Northwest Fight 253 by a Muslim terrorist. The response by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the current leadership of Janet Napolitano, was to impose a series of new restrictive security procedures aboard aircraft already filled with passengers and flying at 35,000 feet, instead of addressing the threat at a more reasonable elevation, such as at ground level.

To believe that restricting lavatory use and keeping blankets off the laps of grandmothers will make air travel safer is to believe in a myth that should be insulting to every law abiding air passenger. All passengers are not the problem, and not all passengers pose a threat to air travel. To make air travel safer, we must identify potential threats before they board an aircraft. To do so, we must first break free from the bonds of political correctness and admit, without feelings of guilt or reservation that the threat is originating from Islamic terrorists and those who facilitate them.

We must immediately implement an aggressive program of comprehensive profiling that takes into account religion, ethnicity, country of origin, citizenship and countries recently traveled. We must also factor in other conditions including but not limited to methods and times of ticket purchases, luggage and carry-on conditions, connections and destinations, and traveling companions.

Most importantly, we must immediately employ and effectively utilize well trained and seasoned behavioral profilers at every commercial airport terminal to identify potential high-risk passengers. Additionally, properly trained plain clothes security personnel, asking strategic, probative questions of passengers, working strategically within the throngs of traveling public inside the air terminal must work in tandem with each other and with those manning the security check points. Further, those who man the checkpoints must be well trained and must know exactly what to look for as well.

I would argue that not only would the system be exponentially more effective than the current “Napolitano Doctrine of exposed laps and hold it until you land,” it is far less invasive than full body scans that might allow prying eyes a look at a passenger usually reserved for spouses or family doctors. Truth be told, the former would be less offensive to a bona fide peaceful Muslim than having his wife’s body exposed to a stranger seated behind a machine. Why then, is there such resistance to the implementation of such a comprehensive security process?

Leading the charge of objections to such profiling is the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and CAIR Canada, which has condemned such profiling techniques as discriminatory to Muslims. Doesn’t anyone find it duplicitous that the same organization that has demanded the right for female Muslims to wear head coverings for photographic identification at the DMV has no problem with a full body scan at an airport?

Also, in the event people have forgotten, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was named as one of about 300 unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development trial. On November 24, 2008, the government secured guilty verdicts against the Holy Land Foundation and five individual defendants, finding that the organization was guilty of funneling over $12 million to the terrorist group HAMAS, a US designated terrorist organization.

Does anyone find it odd that publicly, CAIR “condemns” acts of potential terrorism such as what took place aboard flight 253, yet filed a lawsuit against our own government over a program implemented to monitor terrorist communications that could have facilitated the discovery of the Christmas Day threat, and further demanded TSA and other security personnel to undergo “sensitivity training” to  avoid offending the cultural and religious sensitivities of Muslims going through airport security?

Lest anyone think I am singling out CAIR as the only Islamic advocacy group with at ties to Islamic terrorists, the TSA also invited the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to provide sensitivity training” to TSA officials and screeners. An August 28, 2007 press release by the ADC Michigan Chapter proudly announced that they “conducted a sensitivity training session with a group of first tier airport security managers of the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) at Detroit Metro Airport.” In that press release, Senior National Advisor and Regional Director Imad HAMAD is identified as one of the presenters. The importance of this cannot be understated; HAMAD was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization that is responsible for airplane hijackings and homicide bombings. Dr. Daniel Pipes, a noted scholar and authority on Islamist matters, provides important insight on HAMAD and the ADC at this link. It is required reading.

Less than two weeks before the near fatal bombing of Christmas Day, I warned about Islamist attacks on our airline industry, citing the actions of two Muslims aboard an American West flight from Phoenix to Washington, DC. In that case, CAIR immediately came to the aid of the two Muslim “victims” of profiling. Well, that flight was in 1999, and the two “victims” were actually al Qaeda recruits from Saudi Arabia who had received explosives training in Afghanistan. The discrimination suit was dismissed and in 2003, and the two victims, Muhammed al-Qudhaieen and Hamdan al-Shalawi were eventually deported. Despite the dismissal, there was the cumbersome issue of defending against the seemingly predatory legal action.

While portraying themselves as patriotic and sympathetic to air security, CAIR has not only encouraged, but have facilitated lawsuits against airlines, law enforcement officials, and even passengers who have the presence of mind to report suspicious behavior of Muslims at an airport and aboard an aircraft. I am referring to the case of the six Muslim Imams aboard USAir Flight 300 on November 20, 2006.

As I accurately predicted and was quoted in The Washington Times article on November 21, 2006, I stated that the USAir Flight 300 event of alleged discrimination would be “…a watershed event in this country…and they are looking for this to be litigated ad nauseam.” And it was, and continues to be a near gold-standard of litigation against airline security by Islamic travelers.

In the months following that event aboard USAir Flight 300, CAIR was at the forefront to change, through threats of litigation and ultimate litigation, airport security as it applies to Muslim travelers. And it worked. Witness the birth of the Flying While Muslim website, where Muslim passengers are well advised of their rights while traveling by air.

It would seem that the runway to the events aboard Delta-Northwest Flight 253, despite that flight originating in a foreign country, has been paved by a combination of events, including the tireless efforts of CAIR, the ADC, and their respective representatives and every government agent and politician who permits such groups access to airport security policies – or worse – permits such groups and their representatives to actually influence them.

Any person of reasonable sensibilities should be asking why our current and former administrations have invited and permitted individuals and organizations with either direct or tangential ties to Islamic terrorist groups access to airport security. One answer, particularly with respect to politicians, is of course, monetary contributions to their various political campaigns. Another less palatable answer, particularly with regard to the influence shaping the policies of airlines, security groups and other support services, is the threat of litigation.

When such “influence” manifests itself in the form of the threat of litigation, it is, in my opinion, nothing less than intimidation. Any security policy that is shaped from such threats is not only ineffectual and dangerous to the flying public, but an invitation to certain disaster. At present, our air security apparatus is being held hostage while we continue to implement security measures that are nothing more than window dressing, much like the current “Napolitano Doctrine” of airline lavatory use. Historically and absent of facing down those who intimidate, hostage situations don’t end well. Mark my words, the threat posed to air travelers has exponentially increased over the last few years and will not end well in the near term.

As detailed above, the runway to Flight 253 has been well paved. The runway to the next event, most likely one that will have a much more disastrous outcome, continues to be upgraded by intimidation tactics and acquiescence.

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