Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Police Audio: AirTran Removes Muslim Passengers Because "Iranian" Look

On August 20, 2006, two young Pakistani-American Muslim men returning home to Washington, D.C. from Tampa on AirTran flight 941 were abruptly kicked off (or removed) the aircraft and handed over to law enforcement for questioning. Minutes later they were cleared but could not re-board that same flight.

The incident upset me enough to dig deeper, because there is no justification to selectively remove passengers off flights. I decided to research further and what I found was a very disturbing case of racial or ethnic or religious (whatever you want to call it) profiling and maybe a troubling trend in the aviation industry.

I believe that the evidence (when available) will always lead to the truth, because evidence does not lie. In this situation the evidence would be any audio archives between the flight crew and law enforcement. I've tracked it down courtesy of the Tampa Airport Police Department. Below is a transcript of the brief phone call from "Jeff" at AirTran to the Tampa Airport Police dispatch.

The conversation clearly shows that AirTran had no justified reason to remove the two Muslims from the aircraft except that they acted "suspicious" and looked "Iranian." What's an Iranian look like? does that mean anyone who is percieved to be Iranian is a suspect?

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