Breaking: London-to-DC flight diverted due to “dangerous situation” on board (Update: Note referencing Al Qaeda?)

posted at 10:42 am on August 16, 2006 by Allahpundit

The plane’s on the runway in Boston now; passengers are being offloaded. Details are sketchy, but Fox said there were three “suspicious” people onboard who confronted the crew and who may or may not have had an “item” or “items” with them.

No red font for the headline since this is probably nothing. But stand by.

Update: CNN quotes an unnamed fed as saying there was no terrorism involved. Fox quotes an FBI agent as saying the incident might have been caused by a claustrophobic female passenger, with other passengers “getting involved.”

Sounds like there’s nothing to see here. Just bad luck that it happened on a flight from London.

Update: Fighter jets escorted the plane in, but that, alas, appears to be SOP these days.

Update: Here’s the report from WBZ in Boston:

A United Airlines flight from London to Washington D-C was diverted to Logan Airport this morning following a confrontation involving three passengers.

A woman on board Flight 923 apparently became “unruly,” prompting the pilot to request an emergency landing at Logan shortly after 10 a-m.

Update: All right, this gets the red font: Fox just said the woman had a note referencing Al Qaeda, along with “vaseline,” matches, and a screwdriver.

Update: For what it’s worth, today’s the day the terror plot was allegedly supposed to have taken place.

Update: The pilot on the flight had declared a “security emergency.”

Update: CNN says there’s an unconfirmed report that the woman was tied up.

Update: CNN asks a good question. Regardless of whether this was terror or just a lone nut, how’d she get vaseline and matches through the screeners at a British airport? Here’s a better question: why was it left to the crew to confront the passenger? There wasn’t a federal air marshal on a flight from London to Washington? On the very day the attacks were supposed to have occurred?

Update: CNN confirms that she had two notes — one in English, the other in Arabic.

Update: Bomb-sniffing dogs are checking the bags.

Update: Fox says an undersecretary at TSA is denying that the woman had any notes or items on her, which puts us back at claustrophobia. Very strange to have two competing storylines like this.

Update: Two storylines:

An FBI spokeswoman in Boston said the incident involved one “disruptive,” 60-year-old female passenger who was reportedly claustrophobic…

Logan Airport spokesman Phil Orlandella said the woman had Vaseline, a screw driver, matches and a note referencing al-Qaida.

Which storyline you believe depends upon your ideology, of course. Lefties will accuse the feds of making up the stuff about the note and vaseline in order to spread panic. Righties will accuse the feds of making up the stuff about claustrophobia in order not to spread panic.

Dean Barnett e-mails:

So she became claustrophobic, got unruly, and wrote a note in Arabic referencing Al Qaeda?

I usually write the Arabic note first when I get claustrophobic.

Update: More from NBC:

A female passenger aboard United Flight 923 said she was claustrophobic and became very upset and got into some kind of confrontation with the flight crew, according to George Naccara, federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration for Massachusetts’ airport…

NBC News has been told there was never a threat of terrorism. The pilot decided to land at the nearest airport after the altercation. The woman was taken off the plane, which is planned to continue to Dulles International Airport.

How did the stuff about the vaseline and note get started?

Update: Heads up, ladies: no more gel bras on airplanes.

Update: More from the Blotter:

Police at Logan Airport tell ABC News that a full search is underway of the passenger jet. The female passenger who originally aroused suspicions has already been searched, and so far authorities have recovered a bottle of petroleum jelly, a bottle of water and literature in what appears to be Arabic but could turn out to be another language. A translator has been summoned to determine language and contents.

A senior homeland security official in Massachusetts tells ABC News that so far neither a screwdriver nor a note referencing al Qaeda has been found contrary to previous media reports.

Update: AosHQ regular (and guest-blogger) SarahW e-mails re: air marshals:

They must be trained to watch out for diversion techniques, aren’t they? I don’t know if there were air marshals on that flight; however, it would seem to be one day they would indeed wait to announce themselves until it was clear the crew could not control matters, as opposed to popping out of their tourist disguise, and possibly getting picked off by snakes on the plane.

Update: A spokesman for United says the woman was engaged in “suspicious activity,” but that could mean a lot of things.

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Let’s hope nobody gets profiled. Don’t want to be insensitive to those who want to murder people.

JammieWearingFool on August 16, 2006 at 10:44 AM

And the liberal Democrats at DU think it is all pretty funny. They are trying to hire Bagdad Bob to replace Howard Dean now.

NRA4Freedom on August 16, 2006 at 11:11 AM

Aside from speculating about the damage a woman can do with vaseline, they are saying (atm) she’d a screwdriver on her. So maybe she was going to disassemble the plane while flying.

… developing …

Axe on August 16, 2006 at 11:13 AM

so was she Muslim?

frreal on August 16, 2006 at 11:27 AM

Come on yall…think of the Muslims’ sensitivities first, mmkayyyy? The Vaseline was surely used to lubricate her figure so that she could squeak into “paradise” and the matches were just symbols of her burning desire to be with Allah. Karl Rove planted those items on her in London.

One question I have never had answered:
If a female suicide bomber “martyrs” herself, does she get the 72 virgins as well? Are the virgins male? If said virgins are female, does that make all female suicide bombers lesbians?

BirdEye on August 16, 2006 at 11:29 AM

You know what is sad.

I have reached such a distrust level with the politically correct faction of our administration and homeland security that I do not have faith we will ever get the whole story on this one.

Because of the clues filtering out
note in arabic
scheduled day of attack

why would the first comment out the door be ‘possible claustrophobia’?

In the most basic way, there should have been a statement that an unruly passenger, a suspicious note, and banned carryon items required pilots to divert plane to resolve security issues.

The fact that this did not happen males me feel worse about our security than ever. After you are dead is too late to act. Our P.C. idiocy is failing Darwin’s rule. I don’t mind if others are too stupid to live, but I do not want them to take me with them.

The shoe bomber was a moron. It doesn’t take a genius to kill us. Moron vs moron.

entagor on August 16, 2006 at 11:30 AM

It is kinda funny, in a sad kinda way.
My question is – how much farther is it to DC from Boston?

MYounger on August 16, 2006 at 11:31 AM

On my flight yesterday from Atlanta to Shannon, at curbside, because of some alergies I have, I nearly emptied a squeeze bottle of AFRIN up the snoot because of the liquid ban. I tossed the less thn half used bottle into the basket which was hinged to make things iretievable, and walked up to security and see the signs “UP TO 4 OUNCES OF OTC MEDS ARE ALLOWED”….well, “fuckitty fuckitty fuck fuck” said I…..and a long flight it was….because of my outburst, I’m sure I was watched the whole way across.

james hooker on August 16, 2006 at 11:34 AM

If the TSA is hiding something then I wish a wistle blower would come out and make it known…

ar_basin on August 16, 2006 at 11:37 AM

Doesn’t this refute the argument that it’s “absurd” to search 60-year-old women instead of focusing on young Arab males? Here we have clear evidence that old ladies should be rigorously searched for contraband! =)

Lehuster on August 16, 2006 at 11:44 AM

Al-Quada notes, and vaseline, and gel bra’s. Oh boy!

How many times has this lady flown, and has she always lost it during the flights? Maybe she owns her own personal straight jacket.

I’m sure many liberals are laughing right now, but they would be the ones totally freaking out if they were aboard a flight in such circumstances.

DannoJyd on August 16, 2006 at 12:24 PM

If it was claustophobia, and there were no items or notes, it’s unlikely they’d be searching all the bags on the tarmac. Unless those are fauxtographs of the luggage at cnn. Which, you know…

Tanya on August 16, 2006 at 12:35 PM

To BirdEye’s question re female martyrs . . .

I have heard it explained that a female martyr gets to choose whether to spend eternity with her husband or to pick a new husband.

MRegine on August 16, 2006 at 12:40 PM

Yes, Tanya, I have to agree with you. On Fox right now they are showing all these bags neatly spaced apart, dogs sniffing around the bags, and a plane with fore and aft doors open still. It is a bit odd that if it was just claustrophobia why is this checking still going on and why haven’t they taken off yetif it’s absolutely nothing? This plane has been on the ground for a while now and if it was nothing it should have been on it’s way to Dulles by now.

Catie96706 on August 16, 2006 at 12:41 PM

Excerpted and linked at Old War Dogs. TypePads on the fritz again, giving proxy errors instead of leaving trackbacks.

It’s disheartening to realize our governments quite willing to lie to us to avert panic and not stir up any more anymosity toward the poor, poor mistreated Muslims.

bdfaith on August 16, 2006 at 12:43 PM


Wouldn’t it be plausible that the wife’s husband (new or old) will be extremely tired, spent, irritable, etc. having “enjoyed” all his new virgins? The ridiculous misogynistic views of the Muslim afterlife make me chuckle…women are second even in paradise.

BirdEye on August 16, 2006 at 12:53 PM

If it was claustrophobia, couldn’t they have just slipper her a Xanax? That stuff works in about 2 minutes…

NTWR on August 16, 2006 at 1:33 PM

Yeah, the whole thing doesn’t make any sense. Why the bomb sniffing dogs for a claustrophobic woman?

Rick on August 16, 2006 at 2:45 PM

MRegine, I was going to answer “what if the husband doesn’t want his wife, instead of the 72 rooms, with 72 virgins in each room (total of 5184 available virgins at any time)?” …but then BirdEye came back with:

Wouldn’t it be plausible that the wife’s husband (new or old) will be extremely tired, spent, irritable, etc. having “enjoyed” all his new virgins?

Ultimate punishment/’reward’ – all those ‘virgins’ are wives and Zarqawis disguised in burqas.

Entelechy on August 16, 2006 at 5:25 PM

not again

Entelechy on August 16, 2006 at 5:25 PM

[BirdEye] Wouldn’t it be plausible that the wife’s husband (new or old) will be extremely tired, spent, irritable, etc. having “enjoyed” all his new virgins?

Yep – sounds like a pretty raw deal for the woman

RD on August 16, 2006 at 9:39 PM

There wasn’t a federal air marshal on a flight from London to Washington? On the very day the attacks were supposed to have occurred?

A U.S. Air Marshal? Unless we have a deal with the U.K. that I don’t know about, the answer would be “because the flight originates in a foreign country.” As far as I know, Air Marshals are only placed on board U.S. domestic flights.

Mark Jaquith on August 17, 2006 at 10:53 AM