In and of itself, one would not expect that to be an item that would garner much attention from the media, and that would be the apparent hope of the TSA and the airline.
The TSA said the incident was not a security issue.
“Continental Flight 1113, Portland to Houston, returned to Portland when a passenger refused to obey the ‘No Smoking” sign. The passenger and traveling companion were taken off the plane,” Christen David of United/ Continental Corporate Communications said in a released a statement.Frustratingly, the announcement leaves out the rest of the story: the man started yelling “Allah is great! Allah is great!”, whereupon a number of nearby male passengers leapt up and quickly subdued the man. As passenger Mark Foster explained to the KHOU reporter after its arrival in Houston:
Every guy that was in my area was ready to go. It was not even a thought. You can tell buckles were off and people were already leaning toward the aisles.The flight attendant quickly obtained plastic cuffs and the passenger was bound hand and foot. The flight, only about twenty minutes out, returned to Portland where the passenger and his companion were taken into custody by the FBI.
This continues a series of stories in which Middle Eastern males have committed serious security incidents, or even attacks, yet the media downplays, ignores, or denies the possibility of a terrorist or even Islamic Supremacist connection. This started with the Flying Imams incident in Minneapolis in 2006, when six imams acted provocatively in the airport and aboard a US Airways flight before takeoff. When confronted, they refused to leave; when escorted by police off the plane, they were detained and then released, resulting a high-profile lawsuit for religious discrimination.
One can try to excuse incidents such as this as the antics of a mentally (or chemically) unstable person, but it also serves as an excellent feint to check the security reactions of potential targets.
But I never cease to be amazed at the willful ignorance of the media and authorities in their reporting. In this case, at least KHOU of Houston provided some great statements of eye-witnesses both to the incident and to the excellent reaction of the passengers. Todd Beamer and the other passengers of United Flight 93 would be proud.