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November 28, 2006

How The 'Praying Imams' Terrorized US Airways Flight 300 To Phoenix.

Remember the six imams that were removed from a US Airways flight and detained in an episode that CAIR called for an investigation about saying that they were thrown off because of "persistent fear and prejudice against Muslims"? Their group leader said at the time that they were removed after three of them prayed before boarding the plane:

"They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way," said Omar Shahin, one of the six clerics. "Six scholars in handcuffs. It's terrible."

Mr Shahin expressed frustration that - despite the efforts of Muslim leaders - many Americans still know so little about Islam. "If up to now they don't know about prayers, this is a real problem," he said.

Goodness gracious, poor misunderstood Muslims, and especially Mr. Omar Shahin, who is so frustrated over Americans not knowing more about Islam - or at least his version of it.

To hear Shahin tell it, and the media who parroted the Islamofascist propaganda, one would think that those terrible passengers and a prejudiced anti-Muslim U.S. Airways joined together to conspire against six innocent praying imams returning from a conference of the North American Imams Federation where all who attended discussed world peace, tranquility, tolerance, inter-faith dialogue, and condemned Islamic terrorism, violent jihad, and forced conversions of Christians to Islam. However, as usual, what we hear from CAIR and the six imams about the incident is no more true than the myriad of other distortions of truth and fact that we have come to recognize as being so typical of the Islamic propaganda that spills across our TV screens and newspapers. As a matter of fact, it's a complete distortion of the facts, and and the opposite of the truth.

First of all, let's recall who the chief complainer is here, this Mr. Omar Shahin, who is none other than the Shahin that was the imam for the Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT), the former home of numerous terror operatives, including Wael Jelaidan, who later helped found Al-Qaeda.

Robert Farrow at The Baltimore Reporter has this to say about Mr. Omar Shahin and his associations:

It doesn't take much Googling, either, to find that Omar Shahin appears to have ties to terrorist-supporting groups. On July 13, 2005, Steven Emerson, Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, testified before the Senate Banking Committee on investigations into the funding of terrorist groups. His testimony focused, in part, on an Islamic charity called "KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development." (I have omitted the footnotes to Emerson's testimony.):

There is evidence, however, that KindHearts may possibly be filling the void created by the closure of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). In early 1994, Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook, who had given the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) $210,000 in initial funding, decided that the charity would serve as the primary fundraising arm of HAMAS in the US.
The HLF was in operation until the Treasury Department froze its assets in December 2001. KindHearts was incorporated in Toledo, Ohio in 2002, and is registered in a number of other states, including Oklahoma, Nevada, Indiana, Colorado, while awaiting renewal in Pennsylvania.

An assessment of its operations indicates a close business relationship with the
Holy Land Foundation network as well as with other charities that have been designated for being conduits for terrorist financing.

Emerson mentioned Omar Shahin as one of KindHearts' links to terror-supporting organizations:

Other KindHearts representatives have been linked with radical Muslim groups in the U.S. According to a business card produced in April 2004, Omar Shahin, a former Tucson imam, is a KindHearts representative. Shahin served as the Imam at the Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT) for three years until he "left abruptly" in June 2003. The ICT - which has hosted IAP conferences and has an extensive history of terror links - raised thousands for H[oly] L[and] F[oundation] in 2001. In the mid-1980s, the ICT was one of the U.S. satellite offices of the Mektab al Khidmat (MAK) the precursor organization to al-Qaeda. MAK was founded by Wael Julaidan, Osama Bin Ladin, and Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, Bin Ladin's mentor.
The fact that the Islamic Center of Tuscon hosted IAP conferences-the context suggests that this was during Shahin's tenure, but that isn't entirely clear-deserves elaboration. Here is what Emerson said about IAP, the Islamic Association for Palestine:

The IAP has a long history of links to Middle East terrorism and its financial support. A 2001 INS memo extensively documented IAP's support for HAMAS and noted that the "facts strongly suggest" that IAP is "part of HAMAS' propaganda apparatus." Indicted HAMAS leader Musa Abu Marzook served on the IAP Board of Directors in 1989, and just as he had arranged for the HLF, Marzook provided IAP with funds -- notably $490,000. In August 2002, a federal judge ruled that there was evidence that "the Islamic Association for Palestine has acted in support of HAMAS." And most significantly, in November 2004, a federal magistrate judge held the IAP civilly liable for $156 million in the 1996 shooting of an American citizen by a HAMAS member in the West Bank. Further, in November 2004, an immigration judge labeled IAP a "terrorist organization" and noted its "propensity for violence."

KindHearts, the charity that Shahin represented in 2004, has now been shut down:

The same day government officials descended on KindHearts, three Toledo-area men were arrested, charged with plotting to carry out terror attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and other overseas targets. One of them had an additional charge of threatening the life of President George W. Bush. The three - Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, and Wassim Mazloum - had spent over a year weapons training and trying to acquire and/or build explosives, including suicide belts.

When asked if there were any connection between the closure of KindHearts and the arrests, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated that they are "separate investigations, but they're coordinated." From Amawi's apartment, authorities seized knives, battle fatigues, computers, and records from KindHearts. KindHearts documents were also found in El-Hindi's home and in the travel agency he ran in Chicago.

All of which puts Mr. Shahin in a somewhat different light. Perhaps the passengers' instincts about the traveling imams were not entirely due to religious bigotry after all.

Which brings us to today's account at The Washington Times. Apparently, according to witnesses, police reports and aviation security officials, the imams that were removed from the Minneapolis flight to Phoenix last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists and were not merely engaged in prayers:
[...] Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix.

"I was suspicious by the way they were praying very loud," the gate agent told the Minneapolis Police Department.

Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.

"That would alarm me," said a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous. "They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane."

A pilot from another airline said: "That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline industry."

[...] Three of the men asked for seat-belt extenders, although two flight attendants told police the men were not oversized. One flight attendant told police she "found this unsettling, as crew knew about the six [passengers] on board and where they were sitting." Rather than attach the extensions, the men placed the straps and buckles on the cabin floor, the flight attendant said.

The imams said they were not discussing politics and only spoke in English, but witnesses told law enforcement that the men spoke in Arabic and English, criticizing the war in Iraq and President Bush, and talking about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

The imams who claimed two first-class seats said their tickets were upgraded. The gate agent told police that when the imams asked to be upgraded, they were told no such seats were available. Nevertheless, the two men were seated in first class when removed.

A flight attendant said one of the men made two trips to the rear of the plane to talk to the imam during boarding, and again when the flight was delayed because of their behavior. Aviation officials, including air marshals and pilots, said these actions alone would not warrant a second look, but the combination is suspicious.

"That's like shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater. You just can't do that anymore," said Robert MacLean, a former air marshal.

"They should have been denied boarding and been investigated," Mr. MacLean said. "It looks like they are trying to create public sympathy or maybe setting someone up for a lawsuit."

The pilot with another airline who talked to The Washington Times on condition of anonymity, said he would have made the same call as the US Airways pilot.

"If any group of passengers is commingling in the terminal and didn't sit in their assigned seats or with each other, I would stop everything and investigate until they could provide me with a reason they did not sit in their assigned seats."

Greg Lang of Soliah.com (via Powerline) takes a look at the seat belt extenders. In a message summarizing his research, he writes:
I believe the seat belt extensions create a serious airline security threat. This is one heck of a weapon that has been overlooked. Basically the "heavy" head of this is very heavy with both the latch and the belt adjuster lock thing. In a weapon sense it's a lot like a padlock on a chain or in prison a canned item in a sock. A solid blow to the head can disable and the strap can be used to choke or restrain. I was astounded that these were carry on tems.
And interestingly, there is a Keith Ellison connection to the flying imams.

Again, as is usually the case, CAIR and its friends have misled us with their usual basket of lies and tricks.

Posted by Richard at November 28, 2006 7:06 AM

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