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Terrorism Paranoia Delays Flight Bound For Chicago

By Kate Shepherd in News on Nov 17, 2015 8:01PM


Tension and fear are running high after the brutal terrorist attacks by ISIS in Paris last week and there was a brief but unfounded scare on a Chicago-bound plane this morning. Four people were removed from a Spirit Airlines flight from Baltimore to Chicago after a passenger reported suspicious activity to the flight crew, the Tribune reported.

It turned out that the activity was one of the passenger watching a news report on a cell phone, Sgt. Jonathan Green, a spokesman with the Maryland Transportation Authority, told the Tribune. The four people were questioned and released without charges.

Removing the three men and one woman from the plane was done in the interest of safety, according to Green.

"Everything added up to create a situation where she felt concerned," he told the Baltimore Sun.

At least two of the people removed from the plane appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, several passengers told the Tribune.

Muslims, or people who appear to be Muslim, are being targeted more often, Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman for the Council on Islamic-American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the Independent.

"Unfortunately, I think we're going to see more and more of this," he told the British newspaper following Tuesday's incident. "I don't think its going to stop until we get push-back from elected officials and I am not seeing a lot of that."

All of the passengers had to get off of the plane for a while as TSA officials checked the plane and luggage. Because of the incident and search, the flight which was scheduled to leave Baltimore at 6 a.m. EST didn't take off until 9 a.m.

Despite the delay, passengers seemed happy that the airline was looking out for the safety even if the threat was unfounded.

"I think someone's doing their job and I'm liking it," passenger Spencer Padgett told the Tribune.

Speaking at a conference Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said there's no viable terrorist threat to Chicago at this time, according to the Sun-Times.

"I think this is essential to reassure the public, first and foremost, we're on task, on the job, doing the work that's necessary," he said in his opening remarks at a counterterrorism workshop held at McCormick Place Tuesday.

The horrific attacks in Paris last Friday stand as a reminder that our freedom is fragile, he told the top safety officials gathered for the conference.

The two-day workshop is timely in the wake of the deadly attacks by ISIS but has been in the works for six months. The Paris attacks provide experts with a new model of how an attack can play out and they're changing their responses accordingly, Chicago Police superintendent Garry McCarthy said. For example, the nature of hostage situations changed when the attackers killed the hostages in the Bataclan theater.

"So we can't use those tactics that we've used in the past where we surround, contain, talk, try and negotiate," McCarthy said. "We're going to be in a combat situation if these things happen and we have to adjust our strategies in that way."

Chicago police and firefighters are currently in training together on how to handle active shooter situations, Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago told reporters.