Friday, November 24, 2006

Investor's Business Daily looks at the Phoenix imams. Good god. I was on the US Airways flight from the MSP to PHX the next day. I wish I'd been on this one.

While it's not immediately clear whether the incident was a stunt to help give the new Democratic majority cover to criminalize airport profiling, it wouldn't be the first time Muslim passengers have tried to prove "Islamophobia" — or test nerves and security.

Two years ago a dozen Syrian men caused panic aboard a Northwest Airlines flight by passing bags to each other as they used the lavatory. As the plane prepared to land, they rushed to the back and front of the plane speaking in Arabic.

Then there's the case of Muhammed al-Qudhaieen and Hamdan al-Shalawi, two Arizona college students removed from an America West flight after twice trying to open the cockpit. The FBI suspected it was a dry run for the 9/11 hijackings, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. One of the students had traveled to Afghanistan. Another became a material witness in the 9/11 investigation.

Even so, the pair filed racial-profiling suits against America West, now part of US Airways. Defending them was none other than the leader of the six imams kicked off the US Airways flight this week.

Turns out the students attended the Tucson, Ariz., mosque of Sheikh Omar Shahin, a Jordan native. Shahin has been the protesters' public face, even returning to the US Airways ticket counter at the Minneapolis airport to scold agents before the cameras.

In an Arizona Republic interview after 9/11, he acknowledged once supporting Osama bin Laden through his mosque in Tucson. FBI investigators believe bin Laden set up a base in Tucson.

Hani Hanjour, who piloted the plane that hit the Pentagon, attended the Tucson mosque along with bin Laden's onetime personal secretary, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. Bin Laden's ex-logistics chief was president of the mosque before Shahin took over.

"These people don't continue to come back to Arizona because they like the sunshine or they like the state," said FBI agent Kenneth Williams. "Something was established there, and it's been there for a long time." And Shahin appears to be in the middle of it.

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