“U.S. security officials detained a British Airways Boeing 747 on arrival at a Washington, D.C., airport on Wednesday night and spent several hours questioning passengers, airline and security officials said.” This from Reuters.
“FBI and Transportation Security Administration agents conducted ‘routine’ questioning of passengers aboard BA Flight 223 from London when it arrived at Dulles International Airport and no arrests were made, an FBI spokeswoman said. ‘There are a number of passengers on that British Airways flight that law enforcement officials wanted to speak with,’ said the spokeswoman who asked not to be named. Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Rachael Sunbarger told Reuters the flight had been detained on the tarmac for screening. She gave no further details.
“A British Airways spokesman said BA Flight 223, with 247 passengers on board, departed from London’s Heathrow airport on Wednesday afternoon and landed at Dulles at 7:06 p.m. EST. ‘The FBI then directed that the airplane be parked at a remote area and proceeded then to interview all of the passengers,’ spokesman John Lampl said. ‘We do not know what triggered this investigation.’
“He said all of the passengers had completed the interview process about three hours after landing and the plane was towed to its normal gate to prepare for a return flight to London. A passenger identified as David Litwack told WJLA television that those on board the flight were given no information about why the plane was detained. ‘We were held for three hours and we were only told by the British Airways pilot that federal authorities had requested that they park on the tarmac and await further instructions,’ Litwack said.
“The United States raised its terror alert to its second highest level 10 days ago, citing the possibility of terror attacks over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. U.S. officials say they believe al Qaeda, blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon using hijacked planes, is plotting further hijackings.”
“Blamed for”? Who is writing this — Howard Dean? I suppose it counts for nothing that they have taken credit for the attacks?
“Last week six Air France flights between Paris and Los Angeles were canceled when U.S. intelligence warned French authorities that the passenger lists included suspicious names.”
Also, from the New York Times: “The American authorities in the last week directed a United States-bound flight from Mexico to turn around in midair and imposed extraordinary security measures on at least six other incoming flights because of terrorist concerns, federal officials said Wednesday.”