Furor over imams’ John Doe suit

“House Republicans are pushing legislation to protect airline passengers from lawsuits for reporting suspicious behavior that might be linked to a terrorist attack. Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican, introduced the Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007 on Thursday, a week after a lawsuit was filed by a group of Muslim imams who were taken off a US Airways flight in November.” (Dec. 6, Mar. 15, Mar. 22; Audrey Hudson, “Hill bill protects flying public”, Washington Times, Mar. 24). Syndicated columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin has been on top of developments (“The John Doe Manifesto”, National Review Online, Mar. 28; blog posts, Mar. 24, Mar. 27, Mar. 28).

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a response from the imams:

The imams’ Manhattan attorney, Omar Mohammedi, said the suit “is directed at the airlines and the airport, not passengers.”If someone has a legitimate security concern, we’re not going after that person,” he said. “Or if someone saw them praying and reported that out of ignorant fear, we aren’t going to target that.

“But if someone lied and made a false report with the intention to discriminate, such as in saying the imams made anti-American comments and talked about Iraq when in fact nothing like that ever happened, we have the right to challenge that,” Mohammedi said.

(Pamela Miller, “Attorney offers aid to defendants in imam suit”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mar. 22). USA Today has editorially weighed in on the passengers’ side: “This legal tactic seems designed to intimidate passengers willing to do exactly what authorities have requested — say something about suspicious activity.” (“Our view on post-9/11 travel: Clerics’ lawsuit threatens security of all passengers”, Mar. 27; opposing view by Arsalan Iftikhar). See also Marc Sheppard, American Thinker, Mar. 27.

P.S. And now AP is on the case (“Imams removed from flight may sue passengers”, AP/MSNBC, Mar. 30), and Sen. Fred Thompson (“Suing for Silence”, National Review Online, Mar. 29). The imams have now amended their complaint to cast a seemingly less capacious net for John Does: Audrey Hudson, “Imams narrow target of ‘Does'”, Washington Times, Mar. 31.


  • Airlines seem to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I wonder if US Air would have been sued if they had ignored the passenger’s concerns and somethin would have happened to that flight? …………………Of course they would be sued.

  • I am proposing my own piece of legislation: The Passenger Paranoia Act of 2007. This will equip every airplane with a pull-cord which will automatically land the plane in the case of suspicious people, activity, or just a funny feeling. Of course no one will be held legally responsible for using the pull-cord.

  • Like those paranoid passengers on American Airlines Flight 63 Colin?

  • “I am proposing my own piece of legislation: The Passenger Paranoia Act of 2007.”

    I am sure that Todd Beamer’s family appreciates your gesture.

  • Airlines reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, correct? I fail to see the basis for a lawsuit to go forward here.

  • This is obviously a SLAPP


  • Well the Imam’s lawyer is right in saying that they’ve got the right to challenge a false report.

    You do that by talking to the authorities and if it goes so far, by proving your case in court. It DOES NOT mean that you try to use the courts as a punitive means to intimidate witnesses.

    Or, put another way. If there was a false complaint made intentionally (guess he missed the pre-huddle “let’s get ’em” speech given on the plane to the many witnesses who’d never interacted during the entire ordeal), then the police with deal with those individuals in a criminal sense.

    As FM has mentioned, and I mentioned in an earlier thread, it’s a typical CAIR tactic to bully the witnesses whenever and wherever they can.

  • “Like those paranoid passengers on American Airlines Flight 63 Colin?
    Posted by: Richard Nieporent | March 29, 2007 02:02 PM “

    I assume you mean Flight 93, and those passengers confronted an obvious threat not suspicious behavior. It’s unfortunate that the people on Flight 93 aren’t better remembered so that they wouldn’t be confused with Flight 63. On 9-11 once the hijackers went through security they probably did nothing to cause anyone to suspect anything. When they got on-board they still had to worry about possible US Marshalls. The legal definition of “suspicious behavior” in our society would have to be board, so board as to be meaningless in terms of security. If you get on a plane the people who aren’t suspicious are the people you should probably worry about.