Sunday, December 30, 2007

Terrorists Are In America

Recently someone I do not know read my blog (and subsequently my bio) and said he didn’t believe that as a Federal Air Marshal I caught a terrorist in the U.S. He said he only knew of one other case where a terrorist was caught in America. Hello! Read the newspapers. And, consider everything is NOT reported to the media. Shoot, I’ve caught more than one suspicious character throughout the nation’s airports—so have other air marshals!

This email-er said he’d feel safer flying without air marshals on his flight. He also cited the case where two air marshals shot and killed an emotionally disturbed man claiming he had a bomb when he didn’t. I don’t even want to begin explaining to him why that was a justified shooting. Besides, if he doesn’t believe there are terrorists in America, he might hold the philosophy of a few strange ones who believe the government planted bombs under the World Trade Center towers which caused them to tumble to the ground. That’s plain ludicrous.

But, for the benefit of the curious, I stopped a man in the DC Reagan National airport. When I called and ran a background check on him, I was told he was a terrorist and that I should approach him with caution. Later, I was told the FBI could not verify whether it was the bona fide Saudi Arabian-born terrorist or another guy with the same name and birthday. (The fact that I reported his passport number didn’t matter, apparently.) After detaining him until we both missed our flight, I was told to let him go. I had a pit in my stomach and a very bad feeling. I ‘knew’ the guy was bad with a capital ‘T’—for terrorist. Sure enough, a few days later a supervisor in the agency told me that a follow up background check showed he was.

That was just another reason I left the Federal Air Marshal Service. Are there problems there? Absolutely. But the majority of the air marshals are good-to-go; it’s the management that’s all messed up.

Lastly, Annie Jacobsen, author of Terror in the Skies: Why 9/11 Could Happen Again, found out some very interesting facts about this guy I stopped. Click here to see some things she found. Of course, there’s a whole lot more to that story. Maybe I’ll save it for my book.

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