LAX Police Say Arabic-Speaking Man Broke No Law

The Latest news on a University of California, Berkeley, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old Iraqi student  that was removed from the April 9 flight, detained, and later interrogated by the FBI. This was after a passenger observed him speaking in Arabic on his phone.

According to Makhzoomi, he had in fact been speaking to his uncle in Arabic about a dinner he had attended the night before at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and upon ending the call with a customary “inshallah,” noticed that a passenger was looking at him suspiciously.

A spokesman for Los Angeles International Airport police says officers have that the Berkeley student broke no laws when he spoke in Arabic on his cellphone while seated on a Southwest Airlines plane.

Officer Rob Pedregon of the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department said Monday that officers from his department and agents from the FBI both interviewed Khairuldeen Makhzoomi after he was taken off the April 9 flight.

Southwest Airlines says another Arabic-speaking passenger heard Makhzoomi mention a terrorist organization during his conversation and became alarmed.

“The statement he made was not illegal, there was nothing that involved threats or anything like that so he was released,” Pedregon said.

He said airport police consider the case closed. Southwest has removed two Muslim passengers from flights in the past few weeks.

Source: The Associated press

From South West Airlines – April 18 2016 – DALLAS, TX

Statement Regarding Customer Situation on Flight 4620

A Southwest passenger onboard flight 4620 heard another passenger make comments perceived to be threatening and notified our Crew. Both passengers involved in the situation spoke a shared language, Arabic. Our Crew responded by following protocol, as required by federal law, to investigate and report to law enforcement agencies any potential threat to civil aviation. It was the content of the passenger’s conversation, not the language used, that prompted the report leading to our investigation. We provided the passenger an immediate refund of his unused ticket. Federal law enforcement agents became involved and conducted their own investigation.

We regret any less than positive experience a Customer has onboard our aircraft. We welcome onboard more than a hundred million Customers each year; and we aim safely to transport each, while maintaining the comfort of all. Safety is our always first focus, and our Employees are trained to make decisions to safeguard the security of our Crews and Customers on every flight. We would not remove a passenger from a flight without a collaborative decision rooted in established procedures. Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind. Our Company could not survive if we practiced or believed otherwise. In fact, a cursory view of our workforce, as well as our expansive, multi-cultural Customer base is a reliable indicator that we exalt and appreciate diversity.