Pakistanis removed from plane not terrorists, but Military Officers

10:52 PM, Sep 1, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - There is new information about 9 men who were forced off a United Airlines Flight headed for Tampa Sunday night. Questions are being raised to whether it was a case of racial profiling or not.

The case is turning into an embarrassing incident for both United Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration.

We are now learning the med who were kicked off the Tamp bound flight from D.C. were actually top senior military officials in Pakistan who headed to MacDill Air Force Base.

Central Command at MacDill told us the men had planned to be in Tampa for a three day meeting. The first man removed from the flight was a Brigadier General.

One of the passengers, who was on the flight Sunday, told us it was unnerving as armed police officers removed the men from the plane. A remark from one of the military men caused officials to remove all 9 from the plane.

In published reports from Pakistan, officials there say one of the officers, who was exhausted from traveling to the United States said, I hope this is the final plane to the destination," meaning Tampa. A female passenger on the plane panicked and thought the man was threatening the aircraft. The Pakistani Army released a statement saying the men have been cleared and U.S. Defense Officials regret the incident.

However, as a result of the incident, military authorities in Pakistan cancelled the visit and called the delegation back.

After the men were removed from the plane, the leader of the delegation showed T.S.A. officials an invitation letter from Centcom and all the passports that identified the men as senior military officers.

United Airlines told us they recognized the incident was an inconvenience for its customers and the airline wants to apologize for what happened.

A spokesman for the American Embassy in Islamabad says talks are underway to reschedule the visit.  

Mike Deeson

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