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Good News Thursday

August 10, 2006 08:05 AM

What good news this morning, we suppose.  It does appear a massive terrorist attack has been thwarted.  Twenty-one people arrested, and though it has not officially been attributed to al-Qaeda, it certainly has their hallmarks.  Apparently the plot was to carry on different explosive components and assemble them on board.

It certainly puts one in mind of the eleven missing Eqyptian students from over the weekend (most of whom have turned themselves in three of whom have been arrested, two turned themselves in).

Also puts one on mind of this first hand account from a Wall Street Journal Reporter, of a domestic flight she took on June 29, 2004.  Quoting excerpts from it simply doesn't do it justice--you have to read the whole thing.

And on a much lighter note, last night's Red's game was one of the best and most exciting sporting events we have ever witnessed.  Thank you Bob Castellini!


You should check these stories before you publish them, not that anyone really ever visits this site. This story is an urban legend. You can read all about it here:

"According to federal air marshals, Ms. Jacobsen "overreacted": "

"Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, "overreacted," to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS.

The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.

"The lady was overreacting," said the source. "A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane."

The middle eastern men were identified by federal agents as a group of touring musicians travelling to a concert date at a casino, said Air Marshals spokesman Dave Adams.

Jacobsen wrote she became alarmed when the men made frequent trips to the lavatory, repeatedly opened and closed the overhead luggage compartments, and appeared to be signaling each other.

"Initially it was brought to [the air marshals] attention by a passenger," Adams said, adding the agents had been watching the men and chose to stay undercover.

Jacobsen and her husband had a number of conversations with the flight attendants and gestured towards the men several times, the source said.

"In concert with the flight crew, the decision was made to keep [the men] under surveillance since no terrorist or criminal acts were being perpetrated aboard the aircraft; they didn’t interfere with the flight crew," Adams said.

The air marshals did, however, check the bathrooms after the middle-eastern men had spent time inside, Adams said.

FBI agents met the plane when it landed in Los Angeles and the men were questioned, and Los Angeles field office spokeswoman Cathy Viray said it's significant the alarm on the flight came from a passenger.

"We have to take all calls seriously, but the passenger was worried, not the flight crew or the federal air marshals," she said. "The complaint did not stem from the flight crew."

Federal agents later verified the musicians’ story.

'We followed up with the casino," Adams said. A supervisor verified they were playing a concert. A second federal law enforcement source said the concert itself was monitored by an agent.

"We also went to the hotel, determined they had checked into the hotel," Adams said. Each of the men were checked through a series of databases and watch-lists with negative results, he said.

The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen’s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.

Air marshals' only tactical advantage on a flight is their anonymity, the source said, and Jacobsen could have put the entire flight in danger.

"They have to be very cognizant of their surroundings," spokesman Adams confirmed, "to make sure it isn't a ruse to try and pull them out of their cover."

Brockelmann   ·  August 11, 2006 04:12 PM

We are well aware of the criticisms of the article--and that the Wall Street Journal stands behind its reporting. Since the article was published, the Inspector General's Office conducted a 22-month investigation, as has the Department of Homeland Security.

The Inspector General has issued a 44 page report on the flight. That report has been classified--in its entirety--because of the sensitive nature of the information it contains.

NBS   ·  August 11, 2006 04:39 PM

From The American Spectator:

"MR. HARFOUCHE WAS ALARMED to learn he was being discussed as a potential terrorist. I telephoned him in Lebanon and he was adamant that he would contact his lawyer as soon as he returned to America, probably at the end of August. Mr. Harfouche, a singer himself, came to America from Sweden in 1998. He is a dual citizen of Lebanon and Sweden and lives in New Jersey. In 2000 he opened an entertainment business has booked several Middle Eastern acts. [b]Mr. Harfouche is a Maronite Catholic who attends Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Brooklyn[/b] In his version, not much happened on Flight 327. One of the band went back to the bathroom to discard a McDonald’s bag, it was too small to fit in the garbage chute, so he gave it to a flight attendant to get rid of. He didn’t remember Ms. Jacobsen from the flight — in fact he couldn’t recall her name — but he was not aware of anyone being scared in the cabin. “She said we were doing strange stuff? That’s bullsh*t. No, we’re busy, we were tired and sleeping the whole way. That’s it.” Why, then, was Ms. Jacobsen so terrified? “Maybe she had something against Middle Eastern people.”[,,,]

ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE Nour Mehana tour was Atef Kamel, an American citizen who works at the Nile Restaurant in North Bergen, New Jersey. He was born in Egypt and has been in America since 1987; he has worked with many Arabic stars such as Lebanese diva Feyrouz. … Like Mr. Harfouche, Mr. Kamel was insistent that all the trouble on Annie Jacobsen’s flight arose from the McDonald’s bag the drummer, Alfaham, carried back to the bathroom. According to Mr. Kamel, the drummer told him the McDonald’s bag contained “McDonald’s.” It was too big to fit in the bathroom trash can, so the drummer brought it back out. Someone noticed this, said Mr. Kamel, and the FBI was waiting for them as they came off the plane. They let them go on after an hour and a half — “It was nothing.” The whole band told the same story to Mr. Kamel as soon as the Feds released them.

Brockelmann   ·  August 13, 2006 07:31 PM