A hijacking dry run?

As details emerge about the incident on an American Airlines flight to San Francisco, it looks increasingly like a dry run.

The term "dry run" goes back to Prohibition. Moonshiners paid drivers to made practice runs during the day to identify landmarks and spot escape routes without carrying any untaxed corn liquor. Sadly today we have Islamic hijackers practicing "dry runs" in commercial aircraft flying over the United States.

From SFGATE, the San Francisco Chronicle's online newspaper:


Rageh Almurisi of Vallejo, who carried a California identification card and a Yemeni passport, was wrestled to the floor of the Boeing 737 near the end of the four-hour flight Sunday night. The suspect had no known ties to terrorism.

The incident began at about 8:30 p.m. when American Airlines Flight 1561, was about a half-hour from landing at San Francisco International Airport.

Almurisi emerged from a bathroom in the back of the plane and "walked briskly" toward the front, where he began yelling unintelligibly and pounding on the cockpit door.

"He was walking very fast all the way up to the front," said Angelina Marty, 35, of San Francisco, a passenger on the plane.. He was screaming something, and the lady in the row across from me who had spoken Arabic said, 'That's Arabic,' and she had translated it and said it was roughly, 'God is great.' "

A female flight attendant asked Almurisi to return to his seat, but he refused. A male flight attendant and several passengers -- including a retired Secret Service agent, a retired San Mateo police officer and an off-duty American Airlines pilot - helped wrestle Almurisi to the floor.

Almurisi was placed in plastic handcuffs. Before getting on board the San Francisco-bound flight, Almurisi had flown into Chicago on a separate American Airlines flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York, Smith said.

Yemen is home to one of the most active branches of al Qaeda.

There were a couple of disturbing items in this dry run. First, this was a single "dry runner" who was most likely timing the walk from the rear lavatory and the noting response from the aircrew, while shouting "Allahu Akbar."  We also know that other dry runs have had up to 13 possible hijackers on a single flight. Was this a dry run of the initial diversion, where the real action may start in the rear of the aircraft, where aircrews are often located?

Second, this dry run was so blatant, so unsubtle, that you have to wonder if this incident itself was a diversion from other airline or routes. Or conversely, because this was so blatant, will the authorities continue to give special significance to these particular circumstances? That's a tough call by the Homeland Security either way.

We need to be vigilant as air passengers. The false sense of security, the Kabuki theater of the absurd, what we call the TSA screening process is simply a joke. Able bodied American men and women who fly must be mentally prepared to sacrifice our bodies and our lives, if required, against these terrorists. When we board a plane we must make that very conscious decision. Did Osama Bin Laden leave instructions following his death for vengeful strikes against one or more of the 26,000 commercial flighs that crisscross US airspace each day? We must be ready, not as terrorized individuals as the enemy would have us be, but as a strong-minded, clear thinking, poised citizenry.
As details emerge about the incident on an American Airlines flight to San Francisco, it looks increasingly like a dry run.

The term "dry run" goes back to Prohibition. Moonshiners paid drivers to made practice runs during the day to identify landmarks and spot escape routes without carrying any untaxed corn liquor. Sadly today we have Islamic hijackers practicing "dry runs" in commercial aircraft flying over the United States.

From SFGATE, the San Francisco Chronicle's online newspaper:


Rageh Almurisi of Vallejo, who carried a California identification card and a Yemeni passport, was wrestled to the floor of the Boeing 737 near the end of the four-hour flight Sunday night. The suspect had no known ties to terrorism.

The incident began at about 8:30 p.m. when American Airlines Flight 1561, was about a half-hour from landing at San Francisco International Airport.

Almurisi emerged from a bathroom in the back of the plane and "walked briskly" toward the front, where he began yelling unintelligibly and pounding on the cockpit door.

"He was walking very fast all the way up to the front," said Angelina Marty, 35, of San Francisco, a passenger on the plane.. He was screaming something, and the lady in the row across from me who had spoken Arabic said, 'That's Arabic,' and she had translated it and said it was roughly, 'God is great.' "

A female flight attendant asked Almurisi to return to his seat, but he refused. A male flight attendant and several passengers -- including a retired Secret Service agent, a retired San Mateo police officer and an off-duty American Airlines pilot - helped wrestle Almurisi to the floor.

Almurisi was placed in plastic handcuffs. Before getting on board the San Francisco-bound flight, Almurisi had flown into Chicago on a separate American Airlines flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York, Smith said.

Yemen is home to one of the most active branches of al Qaeda.

There were a couple of disturbing items in this dry run. First, this was a single "dry runner" who was most likely timing the walk from the rear lavatory and the noting response from the aircrew, while shouting "Allahu Akbar."  We also know that other dry runs have had up to 13 possible hijackers on a single flight. Was this a dry run of the initial diversion, where the real action may start in the rear of the aircraft, where aircrews are often located?

Second, this dry run was so blatant, so unsubtle, that you have to wonder if this incident itself was a diversion from other airline or routes. Or conversely, because this was so blatant, will the authorities continue to give special significance to these particular circumstances? That's a tough call by the Homeland Security either way.

We need to be vigilant as air passengers. The false sense of security, the Kabuki theater of the absurd, what we call the TSA screening process is simply a joke. Able bodied American men and women who fly must be mentally prepared to sacrifice our bodies and our lives, if required, against these terrorists. When we board a plane we must make that very conscious decision. Did Osama Bin Laden leave instructions following his death for vengeful strikes against one or more of the 26,000 commercial flighs that crisscross US airspace each day? We must be ready, not as terrorized individuals as the enemy would have us be, but as a strong-minded, clear thinking, poised citizenry.

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