What really happened on Flight 300 in Minneapolis surely isn't what what the media originally reported (examples: Associated Press, Bloomberg). Richard Miniter's Pajamas Media's report, other blog reports, and the Washington Times get us as close as we'll probably ever get to the full truth.
OVERVIEW: As we have seen during the past two weeks in the reporting of incidents out of Iraq (the "Ramadi non-Airstrike" covered by Patterico, and the "Burning Six" assembled by Michelle Malkin), that the press will not wait to release a report that fits one of their templates ("Soldiers kill civilians," "Iraq is an incurable mess," "There is heavy bias against Islam," etc.) if the limited facts at hand seem to support that template. By the time the full set of facts catches up, millions of readers and viewers have been misled (and, of course, influenced); corrections, if any, are limited; and the press has moved on to their next story. "Drive-by Media" indeed.
Richard Miniter (yes, the same guy who shredded the "no WMDs in Iraq" claim over a year ago) has a full report at Pajamas Media (HT Michelle Malkin), supported by the full text of an e-mail from "Pauline" and a copy of police report on the incident.
As a convenience to readers, I have converted Miniter's PDF of Pauline's e-mail to HTML, and it is here. It did not convert perfectly, but no text was lost; I strongly recommend a full read, as it makes additional points not raised in this post. The 3.8 mb police report PDF file is not readily convertible.
Here's a portion of what Miniter wrote, (but DO read the whole thing):
Now new information is emerging that suggests it was all a stunt designed to weaken security….
Yesterday I spoke with a passenger on that flight, who asked that she be only identified as "Pauline." A copy of airport police report, which I also obtained, supports Pauline’s account - and includes shocking revelations of its own. In addition, U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader also confirmed much of what Pauline revealed…..
The passenger, who asked that she only be identified as "Pauline," said she is afraid to give her full name or hometown. She is spending the night at "another location" because she does not feel safe at home. She credits reports that one imam is apparently linked to Hamas. "It is scary because these men could be dangerous."
..... As the plane boarded, she said, no one refused to fly. The public prayers and Arabic phone call did not trigger any alarms - so much for the p.c. allegations that people were disturbed by Muslim prayers.
..... Contrary to press accounts that a single note from a passenger triggered the imams’ removal, Captain John Howard Wood was weighing multiple factors - factors that have largely been ignored by the press.
Another passenger, not the note writer, was an Arabic speaker sitting near two of the imams in the plane’s tail. That passenger pulled a flight attendant aside, and in a whisper, translated what the men were saying. They were invoking "bin Laden" and condemning America for "killing Saddam," according to police reports.
Meanwhile an imam seated in first class asked for a seat-belt extension, even though according to both an on-duty flight attendant and another deadheading flight attendant, he looked too thin to need one. Hours later, when the passengers were being evacuated, the seat-belt extension was found on the floor near the imam’s seat, police reports confirm.
..... Finally, a gate attendant told the captain she thought the imams were acting suspiciously, according to police reports.
So the captain apparently made his decision to delay the flight based on many complaints, not one.
..... Other factors were also considered: All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket. Three had one-way tickets. Between the six men, only one had checked a bag.
And, Pauline said, they spread out just like the 9-11 hijackers. Two sat in first, two in the middle, and two back in the economy section. Pauline’s account is confirmed by the police report. The airline spokeswoman added that some seemed to be sitting in seats not assigned to them.
One thing that no one seemed to consider at the time, perhaps due to lack of familiarity with Islamic practice, is that the men prayed both at the gate and on the plane. Observant Muslims pray only once at sundown, not twice.
"It was almost as if they were intentionally trying to get kicked off the flight," Pauline said.
Occam's Razor says "BINGO."
You will grow very old waiting for corrections to at least the following clear errors in the two original reports linked above:
AP via Seattle Times --
- "A passenger raised concerns about the imams." (no other justification for the handling of the situation is mentioned)
- "'We did nothing' on the plane, (North American Imams Federation president Omar) Shahin said." (Yeah, right.)
- "'If up to now they don't know about prayers, this is a real problem,' he (Shahin) said." (Miniter sure nailed them on that one, didn't he?)
- "after a passenger expressed concerns about their behavior." ("the passenger" is also mentioned later in the article)