United Airlines and Dulles security treat Pakistani military officers as terrorists

United Airlines threw nine high-ranking Pakistani military officers off a Washington-Tampa flight on Sunday and turned them over to Dulles security, who detained and grilled the men. The officers were on a junket in the USA, and had been travelling extensively; one of them said words to the effect of, "I hope this is my last flight." This was interpreted as a terrorist threat by a flight attendant. Dulles security did not let the men contact their embassy or the US military officials who were hosting them.
The Pakistanis were finally released after police at Dulles determined they did not pose a threat. But instead of proceeding to Tampa, the delegation was ordered to return to Pakistan by their military superiors in Islamabad, in protest of their treatment, the Pakistani official said, adding that they were "verbally abused." The group of officers spent the next 48 hours in Washington, waiting for the next available flight home, and were scheduled to depart the United States on Tuesday evening.

The Pakistani officers were originally en route to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa to attend the annual conference of the U.S.-Pakistan Military Consultative Committee, said Maj. David Nevers, a Central Command spokesman. He said Centcom officials hoped to reschedule the conference.

Pakistani officials leaving in protest (via Consumerist)


  1. Zealotry in the US is at an all-time high, clearly. Barking, simply barking & frothing at the mouth…

    I’m, I’m..speechless. So, this is what it’s come down to in the U.S.? Epic xenophobia, racism & religious intolerance?

  2. I guess they didn’t know traveling while Arabic is grounds for detention.

    The poor schmucks should count themselves lucky they weren’t anally tasered.

      1. Dude, the anti-Muslim morans in this country do not understand that Sikhism is a completely separate religion that has nothing what-so-ever to do with Islam. To anyone who would arrest you for it, being Punjabi or Pashtun while flying is definitely the same as Flying while A-rab.

        Sharing the country with these idiots brings me great shame.

        1. Sikhism is a completely separate religion, but it does have historical links with Islam AND Hindu writings. That said, it’s a shame that all these people are lumped together as weird alien extremists.

  3. Security theater is a bad idea for a long list of reasons, but I think “risk of creating an international incident” just floated up to the top ten. In the very best case, nine “high-ranking Pakistani officers” now have one stunningly bad association with the U.S.-Pakistan Military Consultative Committee.

  4. Just because they’re high-ranking Pakistani officers doesn’t mean they can’t also be surly hipsters. Or does it?

  5. Look at the way certain aspects of this country are fuming about the Cordoba House (“9/11 mosque” or even better “Victory Mosque”. . . victory? over what?), as well as just about any other mosque, then look at this story. It’s clear that a large portion of the population is extremely suspicious of any Muslim (which unfortunately includes any middle easterner, no matter what religion.)

    I predict there will be more violence, a mosque or two will burn, people will get hurt, and there will be very little hand-wringing on that side of the aisle.

    1. I don’t think the investigation is done, but there was a suspicious fire at the Murfresborough Islamic Centre building site this week. The front sign was also broken. If you watch The Daily Show, I think it was the same one they were at. I mean, there can’t be many in Murfresborough…

  6. Really, is anybody surprised? If you treat people like dirt for long enough just because you can eventually you will piss off somebody important.

    Arresting someone because they are wearing a T-Shirt with a picture of a gun on it. Making nursing mothers dump their mother’s milk because it’s liquid.
    We have let the lunatics take over the asylum!

    The blind bigoted hate we are spewing these days WILL end up starting a war, sooner or later.
    And then the idiots who having been screaming will point to the war and say ‘see, we told you they were dangerous’.

    1. The blind bigoted hate we are spewing these days WILL end up starting a war, sooner or later.

      God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty…. And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

    2. “The blind bigoted hate we are spewing these days WILL end up starting a war, sooner or later.”

      Didn’t it already start one in Iraq?

  7. Well, honestly, I think being an officer of the Pakistani military actually does produce fairly good odds of being connected to terrorism.

    I don’t mean to imply that that was the airline’s rationale, of course. That rationale would presumably be that all brown people will blow your shit up, given a chance.

    1. The same is true for high ranking US military officials.

      -> Afghan Mujahedin, Contras, School of Americas ….

  8. I believe this is not the first time that Pakistani or foreign diplomatic or military personnel have been harassed in the U.S. while traveling.
    Additionally, one friend that flies regularly from Dulles has told me of how he was harassed there with a spot baggage inspection as he was attempting to leave the airport (had passed out of immigration and security).

  9. Among the things the Pakistani top brass were to discuss with the American top brass, was how to bring NATO’s supply-lines up to previous levels.

    As you know, because of the Monsoon floods, NATO’s supply lines are now only a trickle of what they were.

    Since NATO (and US army) gets all it’s fuel (for example) from Pakistani refineries (including jet fuel) and it’s ammo from Pakistani factories and it’s food and ice-cream from Karachi, they are running seriously short.

    It is no accident that attacks on main American bases in Afghanistan are now becoming common…. the taliban know all about the supply-lines.

    NATO gets 80-90% of all it’s supplies trough Pakistan. Without them, we estimate NATO can’t survive for more than 2 weeks (if totally cut-off).

    THAT problem was up for discussion.

    But since Pakistanis were told to “f–k off”, they went home.

    Not their problem now, is it?

  10. The chairman of Qantas was detained at a West Coast airport for “possessing airplane seating plans”
    (She – yes, she – was on her way to Seattle to negotiate a major 747 order)
    When she explained this to the goon, he said “Airline chairmen ain’t women”….

    Pay peanuts…..

    1. Got a link for that? I can’t find anything on Google news, but I didn’t search too far back (was this a recent event or a while ago?)

  11. Here’s an idea for UA: hire intelligent people for security staff! With the economy being what it is, it can’t be too expensive.
    Umm… naah, that would be silly.

  12. The reason they were not allowed to contact their embassy or even the American military was because … ? They were afraid there are foreign terrorists in Centcom?

  13. “I hope this is my last flight.”

    So they thought that the man was a terrorist because he hates flying? Or did they think that he was a terrorist would prefer to die rather than have to fly a second time?

    “Geez, I’m willing to kill myself and all, but that screaming kid is just too much for my sensitive terrorist self.”

    Meanwhile, the TSA lets through two guys with mock bombs in their luggage. Heck of a job, Napolitano!

  14. One thought — why didn’t they have an attache with them? I mean, it sounds kind of dumb for official military business to take commercial aviation in the first place, but whatever. Couldn’t this have been avoided by having a minder?

    1. My thoughts exactly. Security Fail, but also Minder Fail. If they want to swan around incognito, have some undercover following them, who can produce ID and get them out of this kind of silly situation.

  15. I’m a British Pakistani with enough disposable income to want to go to America for holidays. But after a bad experience of my own at US passport control (my crime was having a Pakistani visa in my passport) and plenty of friends who have been turned home from US airports with no explanation I’m afraid I have been totally put off by the way Americans treat foreign visitors. This whole Ground Zero Mosque BS hasn’t helped either.

    The US is forcing tourists to choose between travelling around all the countries that America finds suspicious, and just travelling to America.

    Jaybee – crazy story, I’d love to see a link!

    1. I’m a British WASP. I used to visit the US most years but I’ve had enough bad experiences with US immigration that I need a very good reason to go there again.

  16. +++The US is forcing tourists to choose between travelling around all the countries that America finds suspicious, and just travelling to America.+++

    Don’t go to America. I know I never will.

    But I will go to Canada.

    I gather it’s far more civilized.

  17. Hey, these are ISI guys working with the US. I’ll bet for once TSA actually harassed a real bunch of terrorists.

  18. The TSA’s problem is that you give an extreme amount of power to a bunch of people with little education and no experience with foreign cultures. Then you tell them to look out for “terrorists?” What do you expect? I think the creation of the TSA and other “Patriot Act” freedom and privacy-stealing provisions are a major eyesore for the USA.

  19. Eh, I’m an American citizen. And like the foreigners, I now avoid air travel in the US like the plague.

    I got off a flight from Costa Rica eating an apple. While in line to customs, I ate the whole thing down to the stem. But someone from customs(?) saw me do it. I was informed to just go throw it away in the next room, but when I entered that room I was denied an exit on to the next part of my flight. I attempted to find someone with a badge to talk to so I could throw my stupid stem away and show my empty hands. I got barked at by a fat white guy with a gun to get in line and wait with everyone else. I had interrupted him barking English to someone in line. So, I had to stand in the line with other people suspected of smuggling things into the country and nearly missed my next flight. By the time I was to the x-ray machine (I passed…durh), I was shaking with rage. I let out a barrage of swears, was told to calm down, and asked to see a supervisor. I was directed to a comment form that would have ensured missing my next flight, so I swallowed my anger and stormed off. My partner, who wasn’t allowed to go with me, saw me led off and I only reappeared after an hour and a half.

    As I left, I saw a long line of disoriented people from other countries. They were standing quietly, obediently, staring at the floor and just trying to get through this ordeal without getting shot.

    They tried not to notice the loud, red-faced American girl who was upsetting the immigration guards just because she had to wait in line for awhile.

  20. While I appreciate most commenters’ righteous indignation at the treatment of the Pakistani delegation, I can say from personal experience that this type of treatment is not isolated to US airports, nor to people of darker skin tones, or other prejudicial factors. I am an obviously white American. I work for the US goverment, travel overseas a lot, and have been harassed and detained on several occasions in various airports all over the world for the most inane ‘security’ reasons.

    I encourage everyone to slow down and not rush to judgement over a situation that none of us witnessed firsthand. Employee-wise, Dulles is one of the most culturally diverse airports anywhere in the world. From my experience, I would tend to suspect that this situation more likely resulted from poorly trained and beaurocratic security staff than from racial bigotry.

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