The Washington Times‘s Audrey Hudson reports:
The inspector general for Homeland Security late Friday released new details of what federal air marshals say was a terrorist dry run aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on June 29, 2004.
This is the “Terror in the Skies” flight previously reported by Annie Jacobsen. Hudson says the full report will be available Wednesday; in the meantime, there are excerpts (see Captains Quarters, for example) that shed a little light on the subject, but not much.
This will be interesting.
My previous coverage of this flight includes these posts:
UPDATE: When I first read this story, I wondered whether we would really have to wait until Wednesday for the whole report. And indeed, we don’t. Thanks to reader steve, here is a link to the report.
I see already that commenters are noting that the report doesn’t say the flight was a terrorist dry run — and indeed, it does not. But read Ms. Hudson’s article again. She doesn’t claim that. She says the report releases new details of what air marshals claim was a dry run. And indeed it does.
I am interested in hearing more about Ms. Hudson’s support for the assertion that air marshals have made this claim. I recall that air marshals at the time were remarkably defensive about the idea that this might be a dry run. But I have respect for Ms. Hudson and will continue to read her articles for more information in coming days.
In the meantime, some of you commenters need to work on your reading comprehension skills.
UPDATE x2: Here are some of the details noted by the report:
During the flight, about eight of the 13 Middle Eastern males behaved in a manner that aroused the attention and concern of flight attendants and passengers, and later of the air marshals and pilots. Suspicious activities noted by flight attendants and other passengers included:
• One man, with a limp, sitting in the emergency row area, repeatedly refused to exchange seats, pretending not to understand English, even though he spoke English to the gate agent. The promoter eventually helped convince him to change seats.
• One or two men walked the aisle, appearing to count passengers.
• One man rushed to the front of the plane appearing to head for the cockpit. At the last moment he veered into the first class lavatory, remaining in it for about 20 minutes.
• One man carried a large McDonald’s restaurant bag into a lavatory.
• Several men spent excessive time in the lavatories.
• Another man, upon returning from the lavatory, reeked strongly of what smelled like toilet bowl chemicals.
• Some men hand signaled each other. The passenger who entered the lavatory with the McDonald’s bag made a thumbs-up signal to another man upon returning from the lavatory. Another man made a slashing motion across his throat, appearing to say “No.”
• Several men congregated in the aisles, changed seats, and arose when the seat belt sign was turned on in preparation for landing.
Well, I don’t see anything suspicious there! Anyone who finds possible terrorist activity in that list is either a hysteric or a racist!
UPDATE x3: Another nugget from the report is the description of a prior flight in which the group’s promoter engaged in similarly suspicious activity:
Per TSA’s Suspicious Incident Report, the promoter was one of eight passengers acting suspiciously aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 577 from Houston, through Denver, to San Francisco. Flight attendants reported all eight passengers kept trying to switch seats while boarding and during the flight, made repeated service requests in what the attendants described as an effort to keep the flight crew occupied. One took a cell phone into the “front lavatory,” remained in the lavatory for over 15 minutes, but did not appear to have the phone when leaving the lavatory.
File under: “Things that make you go: Hmmmmmmm.”