Passengers Kicked Off Plane Over Suspicious Text Highlights Disturbing New Trend
Two weeks ago, a group of four passengers were kicked off a Baltimore to Chicago flight due to “suspicious” activity. The incident is just one in numerous examples of a disturbing trend of racial profiling in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris, France.
According to the Associated Press, on November 17, an unnamed female passenger complained that a member of the group was acting strangely, including taking a phone call in another language and allegedly receiving a text message including the word “dynamite” and the abbreviation code for one of India’s biggest international airports.
The plane was brought back to its gate, where the passenger and his party, two other men and one woman, were taken off the plane and questioned by officers of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department, as well as agents from Homeland Security. Jonathan Green, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, said that officials did not find the supposed text message, nor evidence of wrongdoing.
As Yahoo News points out, this does not seem to be an isolated incident.
The very next day, November 18, a passenger at Chicago’s Midway Airport was briefly stopped from boarding his Southwest flight after a fellow passenger heard him speaking Arabic. The man, Maher Khalil, was allowed to board after calling 911 to complain of harassment. In reference to the incident, Khalil made no bones about the fact that he felt the passenger’s concern was due to his ethnicity, telling officials at the airline, “If that person doesn’t feel safe, let them take the bus. We’re American citizens just like everybody else.”
According to security experts, the recent terror attacks in Paris and the resultant increase in visible security around the world are raising suspicion levels amongst travelers.
Anthony Roman, the founder of security firm Roman and Associates, said, “That sense of heightened awareness will now cause the average passenger to look around more in the terminals, to watch individuals that they believe are behaving suspiciously.”
While vigilance is an important tool in combating the ongoing the threat of terrorism, being suspicious of others who speak a different language or writing a text message seems a lot more like baseless racial profiling than it does actual security. After all, what would Superman say.