Memo details terrorist's 'dry run' aboard flight last month

We've been hearing these reports for years, but this appears to be the real deal.

On a flight from Washington to Orlando last month, several Middle Eastern men caused what was termed a commotion and "appeared to be conducting a test run to gauge procedure and reaction to an in-flight threat during an incident aboard US Airways Flight 1880 from Reagan National Airport to Orlando International Airport on Sept. 2," according to Fox News:

"They are trying to pull out air marshals if they are on board, or law enforcement if they are on board," an unidentified federal air marshal told the station. "They are looking for how the crew reacts."

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., has since called for an investigation into the "suspicious" incident.

"It is government's obligation and responsibility to remain vigilant," the statement read. "While the specifics of the US Air incident are not public, federal authorities must review the matter."

Experts said the incident could be an indication of another attempt to detonate a bomb aboard an airplane while midflight. Ret. Col. Mike Pheneger, former director of intelligence at Special Operations Command, said it's "impossible" to absolutely prevent terrorist attacks.

"We can only make it more difficult for people to attack an airplane or a facility," he said. "We can't make it impossible. We have to be lucky 100 percent of the time and they only have to be lucky once."

Despite the constant threat, Pheneger said the odds of being on a plane taken over by terrorists are slim.

"But somebody is eventually going to be unlucky, and that will happen," he said. "And I'm surprised quite frankly it hasn't."

Four passengers aboard the flight were detained by local law enforcement authorities upon arrival in Orlando due to suspicious behavior during the flight, according to a statement by Michelle Mohr, a spokeswoman for US Airways.

"TSA performed a full security sweep of the aircraft before it departed for its next scheduled flight," the statement read. "The aircraft was cleared, and it departed on a slight delay as a result of the additional security precautions taken by US Airways and the TSA."

In the past, TSA has denied reports from passengers of apparent "dry runs" being performed by Arab speaking passengers. Whether to downplay any threat or there was no threat to begin with, authorities have dismissed incidents like the one above as figaments of passenger's imaginations.

A 2004 incident involving a Northwest Airline plane was widely reported after Annie Jacobsen publicized the dry run. Authorities later confirmed that it was indeed, practice for a terrorist act. But other reports have been shrouded in mystery.

Every once and while, it's good to get shocked out of our complacency.

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