More details on Flight 327 released
By Audrey Hudson
May 27, 2007
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. The release stems from a Freedom of Information request by The Washington Times in April 2006. The Times first reported on July 22 that this and other probes and dry runs were occurring on commercial flights since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Look for the full report in Wednesday's edition of The Times.
Excerpts fom 51-page inspector general report:
On the flight, 13 Middle Eastern men behaved in a suspicious manner that aroused the attention and concern of the flight attendants, passengers, air marshals and pilots.
Briefly, the following events occurred. Thirteen Middle Eastern men were traveling together as a musical group, 12 carrying Syrian passports and one, a lawful permanent resident of the United States of Lebanese descent, purchased one-way tickets from Detroit to Los Angeles. Six of the men arrived at the gate together after boarding began, then split up and acted as if they were not acquainted. According to air marshals, the men also appeared sweaty and nervous. An air marshal assigned to Flight 327 observed their behavior and characterized it as "unusual," but made no further reports at the time.
During the flight, the men again acted suspiciously. Several of the men changed seats, congregated in the aisles, and arose when the fasten seat belt sign was turned on; one passenger moved quickly up the aisle toward the cockpit and, at the last moment, entered the first class lavatory. The passenger remained in the lavatory for about 20 minutes. Several of the men spent excessive time in the lavatories. Another man carried a large McDonald's restaurant bag into a lavatory and made a thumbs-up signal to another man upon returning to his seat.
Flight attendants notified the air marshals on board of the suspicious activities.
In response, an air marshal directed a flight attendant to instruct the cockpit to radio ahead for law-enforcement officials to meet the flight upon arrival. After arriving, Flight 327 was met by federal and local law enforcement officials, who gathered all 13 suspicious passengers, interviewing two of them. An air marshal photocopied the passengers' passports and visas. The names of the suspicious passengers were run through FBI databases, indicating the musical group's promoter had been involved in a similar incident in January 2004. No other derogatory information was received, and all 13 of the men were released.
The Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC) logs show no entries regarding Flight 327 on the day of the flight. Flight 327 was logged into HSOC's database on July 26, 2004, four days after the events that occurred on the flight were reported by The Times. The suspicious incident was brought to HSOC's attention by an inquiry from the White House Homeland Security Council.
05-27-2007, 02:04 PM
Is it just me or is an arrest/investigation after the plane has landed, going to be a little late for real terrorist activity? What if there had been an exploding Quarterpounder in that bag?
Miss Hudson has been investigating these 'Probes' and 'Dry runs' for years.
Her friend (whom she mentored) Annie Jacobson actually WITNESSED one of these 'almost attacks' and wrote the book "Terror in the Skies". She was called a hysteric by the Gov't and mainstream media.
The terrorists have put out 'hits' on Miss Hudson for exposing their tactics but the MARYLAND STATE POLICE have yet to issue her a CCW permit!
The Washington Times
Security flaws confirmed on Flight 327
By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published May 29, 2007
A newly released inspector general report (PDF) 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.
According to the Homeland Security report, the "suspicious passengers," 12 Syrians and their Lebanese-born promoter, were traveling on Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on expired visas. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services extended the visas one week after the June 29, 2004, incident.
The report also says that a background check in the FBI's National Crime Information Center database, which was performed June 18 as part of a visa-extension application, produced "positive hits" for past criminal records or suspicious behavior for eight of the 12 Syrians, who were traveling in the U.S. as a musical group.
In addition, the band's promoter was listed in a separate FBI database on case investigations for acting suspiciously aboard a flight months earlier. He was detained a third time in September on a return trip to the U.S. from Istanbul, the details of which were redacted.
The inspector general criticized the Homeland Security officials for not reporting the incident to the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC), which serves as the nation's nerve center for information sharing and domestic incident management.
The report comes three years after the incident, which was not officially acknowledged until a month later, after The Washington Times reported passenger and marshal complaints that the incident resembled a dry run for a terrorist attack. After reviewing the report, air marshals say it confirms their earlier suspicions.
An air marshal who told The Washington Times that he has been involved personally in terror probes that were ignored by federal security managers, called such behavior typical.
"Agency management was not only covering up numerous probes and dry-run encounters from Congress and other federal law-enforcement agencies, it was also hiding these incidents from their own flying air marshals," said P. Jeffrey Black, an air marshal stationed in Las Vegas.
Homeland Security officials initially denied that the complaints and blamed passengers who reported the incident to the press as behaving hysterically. However, the inspector general report shows that air marshals had the group of men under surveillance before they boarded the plane.
"Prior to boarding, one of the air marshals noticed what he later characterized as 'unusual behavior' by about six Middle Eastern males, who arrived at the gate together, then separated, and acted as if they did not know each other," the report said.
"According to the air marshals, these men were sweaty, appeared nervous and arrived after the boarding announcement. The air marshals made eye contact with one another to ensure they were aware of this behavior," the report said.
The inspector's general two-year investigation was originally released in April 2006 but was then wholly redacted except for two sentences. The re-release stems from a Freedom of Information request by The Washington Times on April 25, 2006, which was answered Friday.
Portions of the report remain redacted. However, current and former air marshals who reviewed a copy provided by The Times say the activities of the men details a dry run for a terrorist attack.
"This report is evidence of Homeland Security executives attempting to downplay and cover up an unmistakable dry run that forced flight attendants to reveal the air marshals and compel the pilots to open the flight deck door," said Robert MacLean, a former air marshal who was fired last year for revealing that the service planned to cut back on protection for long-distance flights to save money.
According to the report, Flight 327 was "delayed for five minutes because one of the 13 suspicious passengers, who appeared not to understand English and walked with a limp, was seated in the emergency exit row. The flight attendant determined he was unable to operate the emergency procedures and delayed the flight while having him exchange seats."
"On the flight, 13 Middle Eastern men behaved in a suspicious manner that aroused the attention and concern of the flight attendants, passengers, air marshals and pilots," the report said. The men "walked in the aisle, appearing to count passengers," and "several men spent excessive time in the lavatories."
"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," according to the report. One man carried a McDonald's bag into the lavatory, and "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.' "
As the flight descended into Los Angeles, the report said, "four of the suspicious individuals stood up and made their way to the back of the plan," where "the individuals used the rear lavatory, and one of the men was doing stretching exercises/knee bends by the exit door."
The men were briefly detained, but only two were questioned.
"The Federal Air Marshal supervisor examined the visas, but did not notice the visas had expired on June 10, 2004," the report said. One of the air marshals assigned to the flight noticed the expiration, but "erroneously believed he was not legally entitled" to run a background check.
According to the report, the marshal's "primary concern, at that time, was not whether the visas expired, but to copy the visa pages so that Customs and Border Patrol could later run a database check on these individuals."
The FBI issued a warning in April 2004, just two months before the flight, that terrorists may be trying to enter the country under cultural or sports visas, the same visas carried by the 12 Syrian men who claimed to be musicians.
Robert Jamison, deputy administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, defended the agency's action in its official response to the IG audit, which is included in the report.
"The reported suspicious activity was determined to be unfounded, and not a terrorist threat, and therefore did not merit an HSOC referral," he said.
The inspector general disagreed, and said TSA's actions once the matter became public proved that the agency thought otherwise.
The "HSOC clearly signaled a referral was merited by logging the Flight 327 matter into its database on July 26, 2004, following a July 22, 2004, Washington Times article, and an inquiry from the White House Homeland Security Council."
Mr. Jamison said, "Law-enforcement assessments made by the FAMS and FBI on June 29, 2004, were appropriate."
However, the inspector general said the FBI did not begin a full investigation until July 19, and air marshal officials were assigned to assist the FBI between July 22 and Aug. 4.
"It's unfortunate that the suspects were released from custody, but it's not surprising," said Jeffrey Denning, a former air marshal who quit the agency last month.
"The overt behavior of the 13 men on Flight 327 was indicative of a terrorist probe. It appeared rehearsed, coordinated and planned. It was menacing activity," Mr. Denning said.
A background check conducted weeks later in the FBI's Automated Case Support (ACS) system revealed that the promoter was involved in a similar probe on Jan. 28, 2004.
The unnamed promoter "was one of eight passengers acting suspiciously aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 577 from Houston through Denver, to San Francisco," the report said.
"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," the report said.
The incident followed a series of breaches of airline security in December and January, when the FBI issued a memo warning that suicide terrorists were plotting to hijack trans-Atlantic planes by smuggling "ready-to-build" bomb kits past airport security to be assembled in aircraft bathrooms.
"Terrorist operatives are more confident that they can successfully smuggle [bomb] components, rather than fully assembled bombs past airport security," the memo said. "It is conceivable terrorists may plan to use this private area to construct [bombs] in order to facilitate access to the cockpit, or position themselves in front of the passengers."
Electronic devices, such as cell phones, can be used to detonate explosives.
"What is disturbing to us as pilots is that there are now a number of incidents like this taking place across our industry and the vast majority of our flights are still defenseless," said Captain David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance.
"If I were a member of Congress, I'd be asking some hard questions about why such a small percentage of flights have armed pilots or air marshals aboard, while the TSA whistles past the graveyard, asking us to believe none of this is related to terrorism," Mr. Mackett said.
The audit was initiated "because of media reports concerning actions taken by departmental personnel in response to events on Flight 327" and "to determine the various systems for recording and reporting suspicious passengers and activities."
The report sought to "determine the specific circumstances relating to Flight 327, including the department's handling of the suspicious passengers after the plane landed."
The inspector general made three recommendations, with part of one being redacted.
One recommended that the marshal service "develop or acquire technology to permit effective and timely in-flight communication," a capability that air marshals say they still lack despite a $15 million congressional appropriation to develop the technology.
"When handling suspicious passengers and activities aboard commercial aircraft," the department was directed to establish guidelines to clarify agency roles and responsibilities and share information. The inspector general called the follow-up action "inadequate."
The final recommendation was to develop and execute a memorandum of understanding with the FBI, which the Federal Air Marshal Service said was unneeded.
Copyright © 2007 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
And the film (#2)
And see her on CNN Headline news at 7:00-7:30 tonight.
05-31-2007, 05:33 PM
One thing to note about visa exrensions is they normally take months and 6 months is not unusual. A visa can "expire" while an extension is pending and the person may remain in the US legally. If the visa's were extended a week after the flight then the extensions almost had to be pending so it matters little that the original visa's had expired. Now while an extension or application is pending a person may not apply for another visa of any type untl after the application is accepted or denied. Even if an extension is denied a person may remain and the US and appeal it for up to at least two years. More with some really good lawers. These people are in the US legally even though they are "out of status". Not saying it wasn't a dry run but visa status isn't a very good measure and may not have raised enough red flags.
Yeah, the Terrorists of 9-11-01 were just as 'Legal'.
Look, the guys in 2004 were doing a DRY RUN for another attack for Christ sake! The fact that the local cops, TSA, DHS, AND FBI all fucked up kinda matters a bit more than legalese bullshit about how an expired visa isn't really expired.
06-03-2007, 01:36 PM
Here's an idea, don't let 13 guys with Syrian passports on an airplane...
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