Saturday, January 9, 2010

How to Recognize and Fight a Terrorist on a Plane

The attempted bombing of Delta/Northwest 253 on Christmas Day was not the first from the Islamic terrorists nor will it be the last.

Since I am a pilot, I have had people ask what can a passenger do onboard an airplane to help thwart a terrorist attack.

Having personal experience with a few events myself, as well as reading articles and hearing stories from other crewmembers, I can give you some information which might assist you in dealing with a suspicious passenger or situation.

The first thing to realize is that there are a few different scenarios which the terrorists could be using on your particular flight. (Also realize that it could happen on any flight, not just one originating from a non U.S. location.)

Options include testing TSA and law enforcement personnel, testing passengers and crewmembers, observation, dry run/practice, and actual execution of an attack. Of course it is hard to differentiate which scenario is playing out until after your flight lands, but it might assist you in recognizing the threat and knowing how serious your reaction should be if you know all of the options. In most of these instances, their job is to also scare you.

Terrorists create terror. If you stop flying, they win. So be pro-active. Maybe something you do will cause them to call off the attack.

As a passenger you must be observant and vigilant. Most often someone notices some unusual activity or behavior. It doesn’t have to be just a person either. Suspicious bags, luggage, packages, notes, pillows, and electronic devices have been found on planes. One of the biggest advantages you have is the ability to profile. TSA refuses to do the obvious thanks to political correctness.

Everyone knows who is committing these attacks -- Muslim, Middle-Eastern men between 18 and 40. Maybe al Qaeda is trying to recruit others than don’t fit this profile but it sure fits the mold right now.

Some things to look for: groups or pairs of men, a passenger talking to themselves, speaking Arabic, watching crewmembers (this is different than looking), staring at the cockpit door, long stays or multiple trips to the lavatory, reading a book but not turning any pages, nervousness, being unusual by trying to fit in, taking pictures/videos, not making eye contact.

When you are at the boarding area and on the plane if you notice a suspicious passenger, look for others. How many? If it is one or two then they could be planning on bombing the aircraft or just making observations of crew procedures. 6 or more? Then this cell’s objective would be hijacking the plane by brute force. Also remember that there are sleepers that try to blend in with the other passengers and could be very hard to notice.

A website reports a well-dressed man in custody that was also a passenger on Delta Flight 253. After an incident, your entire plane might be delayed for security and they will treat everyone as suspects. Also expect the government and airline to try to cover up parts or all of an event.

A recent example of a possible test occurred on Nov 17 with an Airtran flight from Atlanta to Houston. Eleven Muslim men got on the plane and caused a big disturbance and ended with passengers assisting the flight attendants in the commotion. TSA was called, they took the men off, talked to them, and put them back on.

The crewmembers walked off the plane refusing to fly it, and then passengers walked off as well. The terrorists tested the TSA and passengers but probably also threatened lawsuits to the government and Airtran.

This could be setting up a later mission with hopes the TSA and airline would be afraid to take them off the plane. Just like the Delta flight, the final layer of security, the crewmembers and passengers, are the ones who might have prevented an attack, nothing the government did was successful.

Read more at Human Events

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