Three detained on 9/11 included two Indians
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 22:22
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 racial profiling.

"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, arousing concerns.

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 country.

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 passenger. "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 authorities.

"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.


First Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 22:22

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