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More Information from Inside the “Tefillin Terrorist” Flight

Last week, a flight from New York’s LaGuardia airport going to Louisville, Kentucky was grounded in Philadelphia when a Jewish passenger wrapping tefillin was suspected of being a terrorist. Jewcy spoke briefly with "Caleb," a man who had been seated … Read More

By / January 25, 2010

Last week, a flight from New York’s LaGuardia airport going to Louisville, Kentucky was grounded in Philadelphia when a Jewish passenger wrapping tefillin was suspected of being a terrorist. Jewcy spoke briefly with "Caleb," a man who had been seated near the tefillin-wrapper on the plane. Now that he is no longer being questioned by the FBI, he gave us a more extended account of what happened on the flight:

We landed with no announcement, so we assumed we were in Louisville, thinking "wow, that was fast." Then the plane was on the tarmac and was rushed and surrounded by SWAT cars. The plane door opens and three dudes come onboard, guns pointed. They are yelling to each other "which one, which one?!"

"Yamaka [sic]! Yamaka! The guy in the yamaka!" They point their guns that way, which is also my way. When they stormed in, it was "Everybody get your hands in the air! Get your hands in the air!" Then they grabbed the guy and he was escorted out. Then, everybody on the plane was individually interrogated by the FBI. Everybody. I was asked if I saw [the tefillin-wrapper] before the flight in the airport and if he said anything to me.

About 20 people were on the flight when it left LaGuardia, but only 9 of us went back on the same plane in Philadelphia to go to Kentucky. A few turned around and went right back to LaGuardia because they’d already missed their meetings.

The FBI guy on the plane goes and tells us, "OK, we’re going to interview all of you." A guy raises his hand with a question: "What time are we getting to Kentucky?" He was one that went right back on a flight home.

Caleb did continue on to Louisville, where he was going to several business meetings, and returned home a few days later without incident. He says that no one who opted not to fly on to Louisville got a comped flight.

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