Law enforcement officials constantly assume that every group is just as likely to commit an act of terror as every other group, and so there is no point in singling out members of any particular group for special scrutiny. That is the kind of thinking that led to this incident, although it could conceivably have been a case of an Islamic jihadist in disguise — a phenomenon we have seen several times in Israel.
Jan. 21: A plane is escorted by a law enforcement vehicle to a terminal at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia.
A teenage airplane passenger using a Jewish prayer object caused a misunderstanding that led the captain to divert a Kentucky-bound plane to Philadelphia and prompted a visit from a bomb squad.
A 17-year-old boy on US Airways Express Flight 3079 from New York to Louisville was using tefillin, a set of small black boxes containing biblical passages that are attached to leather straps, said Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore.
When used in prayer, one box is strapped to the arm while the other box is placed on the head.
“It’s something that the average person is not going to see very often, if ever,” FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver said.
The teen explained the ritual after being questioned by crew members of the flight, which had left LaGuardia Airport around 7:30 a.m. and was operated by Chautauqua Airlines, authorities said.
Officials with the airline, however, said crew members “did not receive a clear response” when they talked with the teen, according to a statement issued by Republic Airways, which owns Chautauqua.
“Therefore, in the interest of everyone’s safety, the crew decided to land in Philadelphia, where a more complete investigation and follow-up with authorities would be possible,” the statement said.
The flight left LaGuardia Airport around 7:30 a.m. The plane landed without incident and was met by police, bomb-sniffing dogs and officials from the FBI and Transportation Security Administration….