What Happened on Northwest Flight 327?

On June 29, 2004, Northwest Flight 327 went from Detroit to Los Angeles, and some peculiar things happened along the way.  A writer by the name of Annie Jacobsen witnessed a series of incidents, and wrote an article about her experiences.  The article has caused quite a stir.  In various places around the internet, people are (quite incorrectly) saying the incident never happened, or she's just paranoid, or she must be an evil bigot to be so offended by the presence of so many Middle Eastern men on her flight.  On the contrary, she has made us all aware of a very real potential danger to this country, and we should all learn from this.

Note:  There have been many other similar cases.

Updated 5/28/2007:
More details on Flight 327 released.  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.  Several portions of the report remain redacted.

Report confirms terror dry run.  A newly released inspector general report backs eyewitness accounts of suspicious behavior by 13 Middle Eastern men on a Northwest Airlines flight in 2004 and reveals several missteps by government officials, including failure to file an incident report until a month after the matter became public.

This article started the whole discussion:
Terror in the Skies — Again?  by Annie Jacobsen.  Since the FBI issued a warning to the airline industry to be wary of groups of five men on a plane who might be trying to build bombs in the bathroom, shouldn't a group of 14 Middle Eastern men be screened before boarding a flight?

"Terror in the Skies" Raises the Question:  Where Was Security?  On Tuesday, June 29, 2004, Northwest Flight 327 departed from Detroit to Los Angeles.  In the four weeks since then, the flight has become notorious — both for what happened on board and what did not.  To Annie Jacobsen, a Los Angeles-based business writer whose detailed, first-hand account of the flight appeared in an online publication July 13, what transpired on the flight went beyond unsettling.  In it, she described how she, her husband and young son had watched a group of Middle Eastern men — several of whom boarded in Detroit — engage in behavior she found to be increasingly chilling as time passed.

Behavior On Planes Once Strange Now Highly Suspicious.  The stories are chilling:  strangely acting airline passengers making a quick dash to the cockpit in an attempt to force federal air marshals to reveal themselves.  Groups of passengers trooping to the lavatories, taking cameras and other odd objects with them.  Careful surveillance of when cockpit doors are open.  Many within the aviation industry say they have witnessed or heard credible reports of passenger behavior that can't be chalked up to anything other than nefarious activity.  Their fear is that terrorists are casing U.S. flights, probing airline operations and federal air marshals' tactics.

Suspicious behavior raises terror fears.  A writer's harrowing account of the odd actions of 14 Middle Eastern men aboard a Detroit-to-Los Angeles flight in June is prompting new fears about airline security.  The men traveling together on the Northwest flight lingered in the bathroom, congregated in the aisles and signaled each other, according to the account.

Second passenger saw suspicious behavior.  Government officials are questioning a passenger's account of alarming and suspicious behavior by Syrian musicians aboard a recent flight to Los Angeles, although a second passenger has corroborated the events.

Flight 327:  Dry run by terrorists for an attack?  There is no doubt that something out of the ordinary happened on Northwest Airlines Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on June 29.  The plane was met at the airport by squads of federal agents and police responding to radio messages from the pilots about concerns that 14 Middle Eastern male passengers had spent the four-hour flight acting suspiciously.

Northwest Flight 327 Update:  Much has been made of the fact that the 14 Syrians on Annie Jacobsen's famous flight were indeed musicians — as if that proves they couldn't have been up to anything.  But, as Michelle Malkin points out, they were all here on expired visas.

Political correctness vs. passenger safety?  One positive thing seems to have resulted from the harrowing experiences described by Annie Jacobsen aboard Northwest Flight 327, where 14 Syrian men behaved in a bizarre, menacing way on a June 29 flight from Detroit to Los Angeles, and similar stories reported by this newspaper: the start of a long-overdue debate on whether political correctness is putting the traveling public in jeopardy.

A Band of 14 Illegal Alien Syrians?  The 14 Syrians on Northwest Flight 327 all had expired visas.  This does not give me much confidence in the background checks that the Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, and LAPD may or may not have conducted on the men before letting them walk away.

Syrian music star sings praise of suicide bombers.  The Syrian singer of a band that was detained by the FBI's Terrorism Task Force for suspicious activity during a recent flight to Los Angeles has written about the "glorification" of suicide bombers to liberate Palestine.  Singer Nour Mehana's latest album includes the song "Um El Shaheed," or "Mother of a Martyr," said Aluma Dankowitz of the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Middle Eastern men are staking out airports.  Flight crews and air marshals say Middle Eastern men are staking out airports, probing security measures and conducting test runs aboard airplanes for a terrorist attack.  At least two midflight incidents have involved numerous men of Middle Eastern descent behaving in what one pilot called "stereotypical" behavior of an organized attempt to attack a plane.  "No doubt these are dry runs for a terrorist attack," an air marshal said.

Extensive discussion of all this by Michelle Malkin, et al:  Regarding Annie Jacobsen's intriguing article, I just got word from Dave Adams of the Federal Air Marshals Service (FAM).  Adams confirmed that he spoke to Annie Jacobsen, was quoted accurately in her story, and confirmed some of the basic facts outlined in her article.

Blogs of War:  The Debate Over Northwest Airlines Flight 327.

"Terror in the Skies, Again?"  The original article, in five parts:  [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

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Updated December 22, 2009.

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