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Yes, that’s me.
In June of 2004, I was on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles with my family when thirteen Middle Eastern male passengers, also on board, acted as if they might try and hijack the airplane. Federal Air Marshals were pulled out of cover during the commotion. When the flight landed at Los Angeles International Airport, a group of federal agents—including men from the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force—met the airplane.
After I learned the suspicious men were questioned only briefly and let go without further scrutiny, I wrote about my experience on that airplane flight. My article became an Internet phenomena, was reprinted around the world in many languages, and triggered an inquiry from the White House Homeland Security Council.
Ultimately, the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General produced a report. Originally classified, the Inspector General’s report was finally released. That official report determined:
•The leader of the group of Middle Eastern men was involved in a similar incident, with seven other men just five months prior to the incident on Northwest flight 327. That first “dry run,” as it would later be called, was on Frontier Airlines Flight 577, in January 2004.
•Twelve of the thirteen men on Northwest Flight 327 were flying in the United States on expired visas.
•Eight of the thirteen men on Northwest Flight 327 had preexisting positive hits with the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS), a database of names and other identifying information used to deter and apprehend suspects—including suspected terrorists. These same men were cleared for entry into the U.S., wound up on Flight 327, and slipped through federal law enforcement scrutiny for the third time, when they were questioned by federal law enforcement at LAX.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General, Review of Department’s Handling of Suspicious Passengers Aboard Northwest Flight 327, March 2006. (Download 4 MB pdf file)