Remember the publicity-seeking six imams who were escorted off a US Airways flight last November at Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport after some of the crew and passengers on the flight noted suspicous behavior? They are, as expected, going forward with filing a lawsuit against US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission after their attempt at an ‘out of court settlement’ apparently didn’t work.
Katherine Kersten has the details, and once again speculates on the real target of the imams lawsuit:
The “flying imams’ ” federal lawsuit, filed this week in Minneapolis, has made headlines around the country. The imams are demanding unspecified damages from US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, both with deep pockets. But their suit includes other defendants, as yet unnamed. These people, unaffiliated with the airline industry or government, are among the imams’ most vulnerable targets.
The imams’ lawsuit, however, asserts that US Airways and the MAC acted solely out of religious and ethnic discrimination. It includes 17 separate counts.
It also rehearses a catalogue of harms allegedly suffered by the imams, including fear, depression, mental pain and financial injury. They have not only endured exhaustion, humiliation and ridicule, but also have lost sleep and developed anxiety about flying.
Their lawsuit appears to be the latest component in a national campaign to intimidate airlines and government agencies from acting prudently to ensure passenger safety. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is advising the imams, is also calling for congressional hearings and promoting federal legislation to “end racial profiling” in air travel. If the legislation passes, airport personnel who disproportionately question passengers who are Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin could be subject to sanctions.
But the most alarming aspect of the imams’ suit is buried in paragraph 21 of their complaint. It describes “John Doe” defendants whose identity the imams’ attorneys are still investigating. It reads: “Defendants ‘John Does’ were passengers … who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged ‘suspicious’ behavior of Plaintiffs’ performing their prayer at the airport terminal.”
Paragraph 22 adds: “Plaintiffs will seek leave to amend this Complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting [these defendants’] liability … at such time as Plaintiffs ascertain the same.”
In plain English, the imams plan to sue the “John Does,” too.
Who are these unnamed culprits? The complaint describes them as “an older couple who was sitting [near the imams] and purposely turn[ed] around to watch” as they prayed. “The gentleman (‘John Doe’) in the couple … picked up his cellular phone and made a phone call while watching the Plaintiffs pray,” then “moved to a corner” and “kept talking into his cellular phone.”
In retribution for this action, the unnamed couple probably will be dragged into court soon and face the prospect of hiring a lawyer, enduring hostile questioning and paying huge legal bills. The same fate could await other as-yet-unnamed passengers on the US Airways flight who came forward as witnesses.
The imams’ attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, “John Does” like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams’ suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our “first responders” against terrorism. But the imams’ suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants.
Ironically, on the day the imams filed their suit, a troubling internal memo came to light at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The memo revealed that our airport is at particular risk of terrorist attack because of its proximity to the Mall of America, its employment of relatively few security officers and other factors. The memo advised heightened vigilance to counter “this very real and deliberate threat.”
Sounds to me like the flight attendants did exactly what they were supposed to do. They – along with some alert passengers – identified suspicious behavior consistent with the possibility that someone or some people on board could have been planning on executing a terrorist attack. In the end, this may turn out to be much ado about nothing, but the flight crew shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about doing their jobs, nor the passengers for being concerned. Considering the number of flight attendants and pilots who had their throats slashed by the 9-11 hijackers, and the thousands of people murdered that day both on airliners and in buildings, I don’t blame any airline nor passenger for attempting to be pro-active to try to ensure that something like that doesn’t happen on their flights.
Let’s hope the judge in this case sees things the same way and throws the thing out. In turn, I’d like to see lawsuits against the imams from some of those “John Does” should they eventually be named, because they are the real victims of ‘harassment’, not the publicity-seeking national security-undermining lying imams.