Whew! That was close. They were in a restricted area, not a public area, near the main air intake duct for the stadium, but the main story here is that the FBI wasn’t profiling. If a group of Islamic jihadists ever does approach an air intake duct in a stadium in order to set a poisonous substance into the air, I hope nobody will stop them — why, that would be profiling! From AP, with thanks to JE:
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) — Five Muslim football fans were detained and questioned during a game at Giants Stadium because they were congregating near an air duct on a night former President Bush was in the stadium, the FBI said Wednesday.
Some of the Muslims said they did not know they were in a sensitive area, and they complained that they were subjected to racial profiling while they were praying, as their faith requires five times a day.
“I’m as American as apple pie and I’m sitting there and now I’m made to feel like I’m an outsider, for no reason other than I have a long beard or that I prayed,” said Sami Shaban, a 27-year-old Seton Hall Law School student who lives in Piscataway.
At a news conference Wednesday, Shaban said he and four friends had just gotten to the September 19 New York Giants-New Orleans Saints game when they left their seats to pray. Around halftime, 10 security officers and three state troopers approached the men and told them to come with them, Shaban said.
The men were questioned and then were not allowed to return to their seats, but were instead assigned to seats in another section, Shaban said. Three guards stood near them, and escorted them to their cars when they left the stadium, he said.
FBI agent Steven Siegel, a spokesman for the bureau’s FBI office, said the men had aroused suspicion because they were congregating near the main air intake duct. Bush was in the stadium that night as part of a fundraising campaign he and former President Clinton were leading for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
“You had 80,000 people there, Bush 41 was there, and you had a group of gentlemen gathering in an area not normally used by the public right near the main air intake duct for the stadium, and a food preparation facility,” Siegel said. “It was where they were, not what they were doing.”
The site is now fenced off and is no longer accessible to fans.
“We do not profile anyone that comes into our arena, stadium or racetrack on any basis,” said George Zoffinger, president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates the stadium. “There was no profiling of our customers. I want to make that clear.”