New York: Falling sick and spending long time
in the lavatory proved costly for two Indians, who were
detained along with a half-Jewish and half-Arab woman by the
FBI from a Detroit-bound plane, on the day when America
commemorated 9/11 attacks.
The information of the two passengers being Indians came
after the third detainee Shoshana Hebshi recounted her ordeal
in a detailed blog post in which she says she was taken into
custody because of the way she looked and was subjected to
"Silly me. I thought flying on 9/11 would be easy," she
writes in her post titled `Some real Shock and Awe: Racially
profiled and cuffed in Detroit`.
She goes on to say that when the flight landed in Detroit,
the captain announced a little later that the plane would be
moving to a different part of the airport.
She then saw through her window "a squadron of police cars
following the plane, lights flashing.
"I turned to my neighbour, who happened to be an Indian
man, in wonderment," she says adding that they waited in the
plane for half an hour before 10 cops, some in what looked
like military fatigues, ran toward the plane carrying the
"biggest machine guns I have ever seen".
The police entered the flight and walked towards where
Hebshi and her co-passengers were sitting.
"The three of us, two Indian men living in the Detroit
metro area, and me, a half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife living
in suburban Ohio, were being detained," she added.
In the weekend incident, F-16 fighter jets were scrambled
to escort Frontier Flight 623 after crew members reported that
two men spent "an extraordinarily long time" in the plane`s
lavatory in what was termed as suspicious behaviour.
One of the men felt sick and went to the bathroom during
the flight. His seat mate stood up around the same time,
There was heightened security and alert in the run up to
the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks amid reports that
terrorists could use the occasion to strike again in the
Hebshi says as she and one of the Indian men waited in the
police car, she asked him if he had known the other Indian
"The Indian man who had sat next to me on the plane was
already in the backseat (of the police car).
"I turned to him, shocked, and asked him if he knew what
was going on.
"I asked him if he knew the other man that had been in
our row, and he said he had just met him. I said, it`s because
of what we look like.
"They`re doing this because of what we look like. And I
couldn`t believe that I was being arrested and taken away".
The three were then taken to an "offsite building" and
questioned separately in a "cell".
As she waited, Hebshi saw that the "other Indian man was
getting questioned in the main room outside.
"I couldn`t see what was going on, but I could hear a bit.
They asked him where he was from, did he have any family,
where were his shoes. He talked quietly and agreeably.
"I wondered if he was as incensed as I was or if he had
entered this country expecting harassment from the American
"What is the likelihood that two Indian men who didn`t
know each other and a dark-skinned woman of Arab/Jewish
heritage would be on the same flight from Denver to Detroit?
"Was that suspicion enough? Even considering that we
didn`t say a word to each other until it became clear there
were cops following our plane? Perhaps it was two Indian man
going to the bathroom in succession?" she wrote in the post.