Easyjet Passengers Interrogated After Being Accused Of ISIL Affiliation

We hear our fair share of Islamophobic travel stories here in the US, like of a guy who was handcuffed at gunpoint at a hotel in Ohio for looking suspicious, or of two guys who were removed from a Southwest flight for speaking Arabic, or of four passengers who were removed from a Spirit flight because one passenger was watching a “suspicious video.”

Well, unsurprisingly being Islamophobic while traveling isn’t exclusively an American issue, as a story has emerged of three British siblings being removed from an Easyjet flight from London Stansted to Naples last week after being accused of having ISIL affiliations. There’s an Al Jazeera story about the incident, though perhaps it’s much more interesting to read what one of the siblings wrote on Facebook about the incident. Here’s her version of what happened:

So the story begins at 5am on a typically chilly, windy summer’s morning in London. My younger brother, sister and I are boarding a plane on our way to a much needed weekend getaway in Europe. We’ve passed the ‘random checks’ at the airport, got through the ‘seat mixup’ at the Gate, and have just eased ourselves into our seats, when a stone-faced air hostess approaches us, and with one gnarly finger, beckons for us to follow her.

My brother, thinking she means for only me to follow, and assuming it’s in regards to our seating, immediately asks if he may go, to which she sharply responds, ‘you’re all to follow me’. With no further information, leaving us absolutely clueless as to what’s going on, we get up awkwardly, follow her down the cabin towards the cockpit, and then bizarrely make a sharp left at the exit where she leads us off the aircraft onto the steel pull down steps.

‘There,’ she tells us, pointing down at the Tarmac, where gun-wielding policemen and men in suits are standing, awaiting our descent. ‘They want to see you’.

Honestly at this point, my mind freezes, and Kim K crying face springs to action. ‘What the hell is going on?’ We begin to descend the steps, and as we do, are met with the first question, initiating this bizarre and incredulous episode. ‘Do you speak English?’ Mind laughter. ‘We only speak English, officer. We were born and bred in England.’

‘Right, we have to speak with you. A passenger on your flight has claimed that you three are members of ISIS.’ 5am timing and running on 2 hours sleep is definitely not helping the surreal nature of this episode, and we all jaw drop in disbelief in response to the statement. ‘What?!’ I exclaim. ‘They saw you with Arabic or praise be to Allah on your phone,’ the officer responds immediately.

‘Firstly, that’s part of the Qur’an, our religious text, so even if we did have it, it wouldn’t signify that we’re a part of ISIS at all, but regardless, we’ve had nothing on our phone remotely Arabic related this morning. Also, we’re Indian by ethnicity, so we wouldn’t even have Arabic in conversation with anyone.’

The last portion is met with shock, followed by even more disbelief when my brother explains how we ourselves have volunteered in orphanages of victims of ISIS, during pilgrimages abroad. It is visibly clear that the officers and agents immediately relax at the sound of this, but nevertheless proceed with questioning us on our jobs, parents’ names, home addresses, workplaces, and all our personal details as well as any and all social media we have (add me on insta babes).

To make matters even more delightful, the MI5 agent, yes I can’t believe I’m writing these words and they’re not part of my childhood Anthony Horowitz book series, asks me to talk him through my passport, including all my pilgrimages; hajj, and, unfortunately for me, also Iraq, and informs me he has already done checks as soon as the allegation was made and that we all came through clear.

‘Why are you taking all these details from me then?’ ‘Oh be sure that I’ll be doing more research on you, and if anything comes back, I’ll be here waiting on your return,’ he warns with a serious tone, which to be honest I can’t take seriously at all, from a man who is jotting down my information in a 1970s Columbo-style notebook whilst unbeknownst to him, little leaves of said notebook are flying off into the wind. Don’t be fooled, there’s no hi-tech iPad sending info direct to HQ. Sad times guys, cuts are affecting us all#saveourMI5.

This questioning lasts about an hour, and definitely includes absolute babble from me about how I work for the NHS, how I couldn’t possibly be more British and hardly even affiliate with any other culture let alone TERRORIST ORGANISATION?!

The MI5 and police officers apologise for the ‘inconvenience’ (see: embarrassment, humiliation, total disregard for any thought of racial profiling on the part of the accusatory party) and assure us that, at a time where we are all ‘on edge’, they have to respond to threats such as these, and that the accusers were very ‘frightened’.

Oy! There are two sides to every story, so I really do hope there’s more to this. However, given all the other stories we’ve heard, I suspect there may not be.

On one hand I understand the need for the police to verify any reports. At the same time, there has to be a better system than what’s in place now, where baseless accusations can be thrown at people, and cause horrible humiliation. There has to be some accountability for the person making false accusations based on their own racism rather than reason.

(Tip of the hat to @pir8z40)

Comments

  1. My heart goes out to the people involved. It’s discrimination pure and simple. And it keeps happening.

  2. You know, there’s an easy way to turn this tide.

    Start anonymously accusing white people on every flight you take.

    In gaming circles, this was (is?) a thing for a while, and it’s called SWATing. You’d spoof caller ID and report a reasonably credible threat at the address you wanted to target, saying something like “there’s an armed man in the house, please help, he’s got a knife to my little brother’s throat…” etc. Make certain that the dispatcher understands this man has a bomb or is otherwise a threat beyond merely being a domestic dispute. They’ll send in a SWAT team. SWAT teams are not nice to anyone they come in contact with, ever. Broken doors, potentially broken bones, possible destruction of gaming hardware, and if they stream live online, viewers get a little entertainment!

    Police are now starting to understand the phenomenon and are beginning to crack down, but believe me when I say this has and is taking a loooooong time.

    Do the same with racists. If you see one, report him/her! It’ll drive up costs for all parties involved, and there will be reason to start cracking down on those who make baseless (i.e. racist) accusations. Problem solved.

    If anyone has a less risky, violent suggestions, I’m open to hearing it.

  3. It’s 1000000000000x times better to “humiliate” and “embarass” a few random people (wonder if being pulled over for speeding also is humilating and embarassing for them) thank to overlook ANYBODY who wishes us harm.

  4. “There has to be some accountability for the person making false accusations based on their own racism rather than reason.”

    Well, it’s kinda hard to distinguish whether someone intentionally made this claim or if for whatever reason (maybe just overheard something out of context) that person was truly afraid. On the one hand we need people to speak up if they believe something is wrong on the other hand intentional accusations should obviously result in legal consequences.

  5. Anyone can make your life miserable today. All they need is to tell someone you look suspicious. Unfortunately this can happen anywhere and most people affected will be in disbelief like this family. It is so ridiculous that they don’t even know how to react. Last week I had a Russian friend that lives in London for over 10 years and is a British citizen. He was walking on a park holding his little daughter’s hands and speaking with her in Russian. He was suddenly approached by this older British guy that said: “You know that we will now leave the EU, right? So, you better learn English since that will be the only language tolerated in this country.” WTF!!!!!!

  6. Ben, I love your blog and have unsubscribed from pretty much every other travel blog because yours provides the best stories which are always on point. I have to say, though – you’re on the wrong side of this, and it appears you’re buying into a narrative which has been setup for a very specific reason (and supported by outlets such as Al Jazeera).

    As a Brit who grew up in within a large Muslim community, with Muslim friends, and as someone who travels frequently, I understand this issue at hand. We have people traveling out of our airports – almost daily – to make their way to Turkey, and across to Syria. Our security services have to do the best job possible to ensure we don’t let these people go.

    It’s a complex issue, but indications that someone has an ISIS-supporting mindset include being a proponent of Sharia law (which includes execution for gay people, stoning of women for the crime of being raped, etc). One very clear indication that someone supports Sharia is by wearing the the Hijab, as some of the passengers in this article were.

    Now I’m not saying that these passengers are guilty, or that all Muslims who support Sharia will act out violence on behalf the ideology they have opted into. But I am saying they have chosen to opt-in to an ideology which supports unimaginable violence towards innocent people.

    Couple that with intellegence reports which were clearly part of the equasion here, and it becomes the least suprising thing in the world that some passengers will get questioned. Reporting “islamaphobia” when this happens only exacerbates the issue, and suppresses open dialog.

    When you have a large readership which you can easily influence, I think there’s an added reponsibility to understand all the facts before propogating a term from Al Jazeera like “islamaphobia”. Its flippant use is designed to shut down the open dialog and discussion which needs to happen for us – as a society – to overcome this issue in the long term. If conversion is discouraged by immediately throwing out a term like this, there is no room for Muslim reformers to stand up within their own communities, and we have a perpetual cycle of terrorism, and conversation stiffling.

    Again, I love your blog, but please don’t buy into the Regressive Left narrative. It’s harmful to everyone involved – most of all the Muslims who need the support to be able to stand up and talk about the issues within their comunity.

  7. Anyone who thinks discriminating against a passenger in the current state of the world is on the same importance level as making sure an airplane isn’t blown out of the sky needs to have the term #firstworldproblems explained to them. We live in a society that takes so much for granted that we complain about inconvenience and discrimination when a lot of people around the world literally spend their entire day trying to make it through the day without starving or being killed.

    I’m not saying this discrimination is not ugly because it is. We just have to remember that there is a terrorist organization that is waging war on the world because of our way of life. These inconvenienced Brits may have suffered discrimination in selective questioning but you can’t second guess or apologize to everyone else on the flight after the fact when a plane is blown out of the sky. Some things have to be endured for security. It’s the ongoing argument over the balance of security versus liberty and that balance will always ebb and flow given the state of world events.

  8. Based on the account, Easyjet should retrain their flight attendants. There are idiot racists everywhere so it’s no wonder that a passenger will make racist comment and stupidly cause a flight delay because of their paranoia.

    What I cannot understand though is why didn’t the flight attendant treat those three passengers kindly? They should know by now that there’s 99.9999% of chance that any accusation from a fellow passenger is bogus. So, why couldn’t they come over, tell them nicely that there’s a problem, apologize for it and be respectful?

    An airline company should never tolerate racism from its employees…

  9. “Actually sir, it was that man who said he had a bomb aboard the aircraft…” Pull that tool off the flight too. I understand fear and anxiety and stuff, but this is irreprehensible. Akin to yelling fire in a theater… you can’t just say what you want when it affects people’s lives. Sue him. Hate crime? Maybe a stretch, but he needs consequences.

  10. @Jason… frankly, I think you’re grossly over simplifying by calling it that. Poor cell phone signal is a first world problem… I don’t think racism fits in the same category… Yes, we need to be vigilant and concerned, but seeing three Muslim people on a plane does not justify a declaration that they belong to ISIS/ISIL… maybe I’m missing more from the story, but from this post it seems completely unwarranted. Making such accusations needs some basis in reality, or let’s all just run around making false accusations and getting away with it.

  11. milgom at least suggests a sensible approach of being nice to the randomly accused since the chances of an actual offender being identified this way are essentially nil and the incidents with unfair discrimination are frequent these days.

    OTOH, Casper & Jason seem pretty comfortable with the humiliation and profiling of people (who are not themselves or their close ones) in the name of security kabuki, ignoring that no real threat has to my understanding ever been identified this way. This kind of thinking is what the ineffective security establishment breeds, ‘just do SOMETHING’, to distract from the their own inability to actually thwart such threats.

    Complete security is impossible, and we should not throw away our democratic principles in an effort to pretend to go for such impossibilities. All the attacks to date have not and will not make any difference to our society’s stability and “our way of life”.

  12. Better safe than sorry, a small price to pay for when living in a democracy.
    I would rather undergo racial profiling than living in Jumbolalabada in the dessert of Afghanistan or Tulubulstan.
    Maybe it should be a class in school live a year in some Republic with a supreme tyran who knows best, then I guess we will see what a small cost racial profiling is.
    And of course if you get pull of a plane you get compensated, that’s a price others in the democracy pays.

  13. no body reported the San Bernardino couple cuz they didnt want to be call RACIST or be accused of being ISLAMOPHOBIC and look how that turned out

  14. At least they let them back on the same flight so everyone was delayed including the false/paranoid accuser. I got similar treatment when I visited Israel… For the most part I don’t mind, I just wish they would hurry up about it so people can get on with their day.

  15. I can’t believe that there are commenters here who are willing to defend harassing innocent people based on nothing in the name of “keeping us safe.” No, just no. To say nothing of the ethics of that, it not only doesn’t work, it actively hinders enforcement. These MI5 dudes just wasted an hour of their time bothering innocent British citizens when they could have been doing something that would potentially help stop terrorists. I’m still boggled that they spent so long with them.

  16. @Dave –

    Cover up man, your bigotry is showing.

    “I have muslim friends” doesn’t make you less of a jerk.

  17. @ Patrick Madden –

    I am against bigotry, which is precisely why I am against Sharia law.

    Name one bigoted thing I said above…

    Thought not.

  18. A colleague of mine was stopped by US immigration a few years ago. He was detained for several hours and then finally allowed to enter after far more aggravation than occurred in this situation, and I seriously mean that. Since his return from the US his ESTA is now refused. The US gives no reason for why he cannot enter, even after attorneys were engaged. This person is very wealthy, has a good job and his religious background is also not Muslim. So we cannot blame ethnic profiling in his case I guess.

    His story did not make the newspapers though; nor your blog, Lucky.

    Unfortunately, this stuff happens. The sad reality is that our security organisations and airline staff have a very difficult job. Sometimes they fail to stop a real terrorist: other times they may inconvenience someone who is not. Whatever they do, we feel we have the right to criticise, which in our pluralist society is a right we do have.

    In the broad scheme of errors that have been made by police forces in the past though (think the Guildford Four, Maguire Seven in the UK, the McCarthy Era in the US) neither this Easyjet case nor my colleague’s are really high on the Richter Scale. Nor do they really compare with the human tragedy we are seeing from the internecine violence in the Middle East. That has not been commented on in your blog either, Lucky.

    Let’s keep things in proportion.

  19. They should have interrogated the people who claimed them to be terrorists too. Why should this be a one sided interrogation? If you are telling the truth, then you shouldn’t be afraid of saying what you saw.

  20. What I don’t understand is, let’s keep the concern on safety rather than on a person’s thoughts. Perhaps be extra carefull with security or recheck the aircraft and all passengers. Once it is clear there is no danger let all the pax continue.

    I believe this is the policy in Israel, a country known for taking security seriously.

    As far as Swatting is concerned, I understand it is against the law and tremendouly costly, it even puts people at risk. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS!

  21. Hmmmm….this is the first plane connected story of this kind I have heard of in the UK. Tons in the US. So lets keep it in proportion. My concern is not so much that people were interviewed as a consequence of allegations being made but rather that there seems to have been no come back whatsoever on the accusers….when I last checked “Wasting Police Time” was still an offence in England and Wales.

  22. @Dave –

    “I have muslim friends”

    Doesn’t look like it with your opinion being that. Hey doofus, next time don’t stress your teeny brain by writing such a large bigoted essay about your islamophobic tendencies. We all know you’re one.

  23. @Dave –
    “One very clear indication that someone supports Sharia is by wearing the the Hijab, as some of the passengers in this article were.”

    You should probably ask your Muslim friends why this statement is inaccurate. If your friends are actually educated in their religion, what they will likely tell you is that the choice of wearing a hijab often comes down to the fulfillment of the commandment for modesty or serves as a reflection of their personal devotion to God. It has nothing to do with whether or not they support Sharia law. Don’t buy into the bullshit that Fox news or The Daily Mail spews at you…

  24. @Aimee –

    “we all know you’re one” – speak for yourself, Aimee.

    Point to one bigoted thing I said in my comment… If you’re going to make such a poisonous accusation, you had better back it up with evidence.

    Your ad hominem instantly shows to the entire audience how incapable you are of having a reasonable conversation. I’m a liberal, and it’s sad to see people like you attempting to shut down conversation with powerful words like “islamaphobia”

    #regressiveleft

  25. @Carolyn –

    I don’t get my knowledge on Islam or any other religion from crazy right wing outlets like Fox News or the Daily Mail. I get it – on Islam in particular – from the Islamic texts: The Quran, The Hadith, and the Biographies of Muhammed (all of which I’ve read in depth). They serve as good reference points for understanding an ideology and its implications on current events in the world, and I wouldn’t dream of buying into any other narrative set out by right wing or left wing outlets.

  26. Good job removing these towel heads from the airplane. You can never be too safe these days. You don’t scream Allah Akbar or put Islamic stuff on your phone out in public.

  27. @Patrick @Aimee @Carolyn –

    See above for real Islamaphobia: “Good job removing these towel heads from the airplane”

    Cry foul at real instances instead of attempting to shut down the ideas of someone you simply disagree with. You’re actually disempowering Muslims who need to talk about the issues within their religion by incorrectly labeling people “islamaphobic” when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    See the excellent work being done my Maajid Nawaz at Quilliam Foundation as an example of someone who is actually trying to overcome this problem within his religion. You are harming his efforts with your knee-jerk reactions of labeling people “islamaphic” and “racist”.

  28. “…and Kim K crying face springs to action.” While she didn’t deserve the profiling, nonetheless she is beyond insufferable. Let’s just call the whole thing even and move on.

  29. I really hope Justin’s comment is sarcasm, and I sincerely wish I didn’t have to wonder. Twenty years ago I would have said it was inconceivable that we’d have this level of religious bigotry in 2016.

  30. @Joe – It’s not an oversimplification and I really think you’re missing my basic point. In the UK, these British citizens of Indian ancestry who are Muslim were delayed and ultimately allowed to continue on their way because some bigot alerted security personnel who did the prudent thing which is pretty much their job. The flight attendant should have been more kind as anyone with a brain could see that these poor kids were being singled out for questioning. In Iraq, Shia Muslims are killed by ISIS because some bigot has decided that Sunni Muslims should hate Shia Muslims and wipe them off the face of the Earth with all other non-true believers. If you can’t connect those dots, there’s not a whole lot more I can say to help you get there. We are living in a dangerous world and all threats need to be investigated. Do you want your family to be on the plane that goes down because the local authorities were more concerned about offending a potential suspect than investigate? What exactly are they supposed to do in that situation? Not investigate?

  31. Ben,
    I agree with Dave and Jason, you are way off on this.
    Maybe you were too young in 2001. But we in the West had a horrible crime committed upon us. Over 3,000 people died because of bigotry, insensitivity, hatred for us and our way of life and our Judeo/Christian beginnings.
    If you or others are what you referenced to as “first world problems” inconvienced—-so what ? Do not be so touchy, feely. A good four years in the military will get that out of you.
    The families of those murdered on 9/11 see things as they are—-not how we WISH things were.
    Undoubtedly those three British young people do not respect authority. Maybe they had a pampered lifestyle….and are such. To accuse Police of being fascist, non-sensitive is silly—–they are doing their job—what they are PAID TO DO. Society picks people to be Police and give them the authority (OH, that word again) to DO THEIR JOB. That is why “we the people” pay them.
    Are there a few bad apples, YES. But by and large most authority figures do their job as they are supposed to. Should we dismantle the Secret Service?
    Note: “We the people” give the Police guns so as to protect themselves. Do you want to do this job ? When anyone points a gun at a policeman— they have the right to protect themselves. And if your father was the policeman—you would want them too.
    It all goes back to childhood and respecting authority—parents, teachers, law officers of any kind, judges, elected officials, etc. Think about it.

  32. @Evan brings up two good points.

    1) There needs to be a cost associated with making these accusations. When someone calls 911 and the police arrive to settle a domestic dispute, is the victim charged for the police time there if she backs away from her accusations? No. However, that’s at the discretion of the officers and the local district attorney. Right now, there are few enough of these that officers don’t even consider that it might be maliciously motivated to call these in; that’s why I’m encouraging the behavior. Make it expensive. Make it annoying to the police. It’ll get dealt with eventually.

    2) In the US, this would be considered a violation of due process. One has a *right* to face their accusers and all evidence is considered publicly and in the open. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best we’ve got, and nothing like that process is being carried out on the tarmac.

    3) A person has a *right* to travel (this is a UN recognized right, so not just US). The police are only allowed to interfere with that right (arrest you) under specific circumstances, with evidence weighed by judges. Again, nothing like what’s happening on the tarmac.

    4) There is obviously no immediate threat to the plane. If MI5, or anyone else, has a concern about a UK citizen flying to Italy, they should consult their *extensive* databases and discreetly investigate. This would be the closest situation to having a middle ground of justice without involving courts. Everyone and everything on board the plane has been screened and pulling passengers off serves no purpose that I can discern, except to potentially trample on their rights. I bet the officers involved felt real good about themselves after doing this. :/

  33. Obviously it’s not great that someone on the plane was apparently terrified of the sight of a Muslim person being Muslim on a plane and accused them of being IS members, but actually this story made me sort of happy to read.

    Distinct from other reports of islamophobia that I’ve heard in the last few years, I don’t get the impression that the authorities really believed at any point that the people they were questioning had done anything wrong. There seemed to be a sense of ‘someone has made this report, so now we have to investigate to make sure everything’s ok. Sorry about that’.

    Horrible people who’ll make baseless claims exist everywhere, so it’s hard to say what can be done to improve the situation. I suppose that the security services could ask exactly what tips them off as IS members and ignore the tip if they hear something like ‘they’re wearing a headscarf!’, but that would probably just lead to people lying to get themselves heard.

    I think ultimately the job of the police is to investigate the claims they receive, and for everyone’s sake they should make sure to do it in a way that doesn’t humiliate or inconvenience the subjects of those claims (or at least keeps it to the absolute minimum possible).

    In the end islamophobia has the potential to be just as if not more of a threat to society than Islamic terrorism does, and is in itself a byproduct of terrorism anyway.

  34. Bill Rettig wrote: “Undoubtedly those three British young people do not respect authority.”

    While there are some heartbreakingly ignorant things being written here, this may be the most insidious, the most corrosive, because there is literally not one scintilla of evidence that this is true. The group of young people calmly deplaned with the flight attendant when asked, they truthfully answered the officers’ questions, and they were allowed to reboard their flight. And yet Mr. Rettig not only finds fault with them, he concludes that “undoubtedly those three British young people do not respect authority.”

    This is pure fiction. They did EVERYTHING right. It’s the same kind of lie that causes some to claim, again without evidence, that Muslims are ignoring evidence of radicalism within their own communities, when actually they’re cooperating, complying, and rooting out ISIS wherever it makes headway.

  35. @Dave, well said. I’m white and was profiled based on travel history at Customs & Border Patrol in Atlanta. Got interrogated about my entire life and all my bags searched. It took hours and I missed my connecting flight, but I wasn’t outraged about the incident. I understood why they have protocols like that in place.

    I was also been profiled purely based on race when traveling on a bus in Western Sahara. I was the only white person on the bus and at every checkpoint the police would ask to see my passport only. At the last checkpoint before Laayoune, they actually made me get off the bus and interrogated me in this dingy roadside police station. Eventually they let me get back on the bus and we continued on. But I didn’t let myself feel like a humiliated victim. In many non-Western countries, they simply don’t have the resources to be politically correct when it comes to security protocol. At the Egyptian Museum near Tahrir Square, the first security check outside is purely based on race. If you look Middle Eastern, you’re stopped and have to show ID. Others (like me) just walk past. I know because I saw this. The fact that stories like this Easyjet thing get blown up just goes to show how small of a problem profiling really is in the West and how naive and delusional some bloggers are.

  36. The UK has been dealing with counter terrorism longer than the 21st century; there are papers that compare the current experiences of Muslim communities to the experiences of the Irish communities in the late 20th century. I do wonder what comparisons we will be making in 50 years from now?

    I understand nobody should be put through this type of treatment due to race alone; certainly all the media reports seem to suggest it was a mistake and people are questioning the response to those making the accusation. However an earlier comment was right in that it is a fine balance as you need people to report genuine concerns, without fear or repercussions, to the authorities in order to protect against atrocities. Imagine however how we would be responding if the concerns raised were accurate and not taken seriously at the time?

  37. “Imagine however how we would be responding if the concerns raised were accurate and not taken seriously at the time?”

    @FJG – I can only speak for myself, but I wouldn’t really think much of it. It’s not a citizen’s job to report these things, though certainly they can. To me, any event would be a very serious failure in the screening process, and that’s where my concern would be focused. It doesn’t much matter what one’s intentions are if they’re unable to get weapons onto the plane. They’ll never take down a plane the way the 9/11 hijackers did, because the pilots would have to be stupid enough to open the cockpit door for that to happen. Bombs on the plane mean there was a screening failure.

    Others will disagree, I’m sure, and would prefer to blame the poor investigators which literally only have an anonymous phone call with a specific accusation about a generic and extremely common arabic phrase appearing on someone’s phone.

  38. “…without fear or repercussions…”

    I vehemently disagree. Either there are repercussions to discourage false reporting, or there are no repercussions and we have wasted resources and rampant racism enforced by the state. You cannot have it both ways on this particular issue, and I would say that by saying people should be able to report “without fear or repercussions” you are implying that I should be allowed to report you on a plane without any sort of fear of reprisal. I get where you’re coming from, but you actually do want repercussions for false reports AND reports with uncertainty. You want your eye witness to be DAMN certain that what they’re seeing is a threat to aviation security, or else you end up with infringed rights and wasted resources. That’s exactly why I encourage people to make a point by randomly reporting others at the airport; this is extremely poorly developed policy, it’s not scalable, and it’s ripe for abuse. The police need to be shown this.

    You might think I’m just pissing in the pool and ruining things for everyone, but I’m not. I’m *trying* to help those brownies that everyone thinks “look suspicious” because they’re wearing a hijab or w/e. I’m *trying* to improve policy for everyone so that they’re protected. Finally, I’m *trying* to make a point about shitty public policy, which is exactly what this is. We’ve been down this road before with SWATing. We need to take the lessons from that, which as near as I can tell are exactly the same lessons, and we need to apply them to aviation security.

    So, I’m in favor of policies where the accuser gets pulled off the plane as well to discuss exactly what was reported with police, in front of those they’re accusing of terrorism. My preference would also be a policy where this is all dealt with by the intelligence services or police in a discreet manner, and no one is pulled off a plane. Just make sure everyone’s luggage is properly screened and even a dedicated terrorist will hardly be able to accomplish his/her goals. If the accused terrorist isn’t pulled off, there’s no incentive for mischievous folk to call in false reports (SWAT) them. If the police insist on pulling all anonymously accused folks off the plane for an interview, then make sure the accuser has repercussions if his/her accusations are found to be without merit. Perhaps fine him for wasting police time. They really don’t need to be dealing with the public’s bigotry/bias when there are bigger fish to fry.

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