Loading...
Religion

LAX Flight 241: Orthodox Jewish Prayer Triggers TSA 'Security Threat,' Lockdown Aboard Plane From Mexico City

Comments (0)

By

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM
click to enlarge Mini Torrah pouches: terrorist threat? - NEWVOICES.ORG

It's good to see a religious group besides Muslims profiled for suspicious behavior by a paranoid American airline -- but still, this is a little silly.

The LA Daily News reported yesterday that a traditional prayer conducted by three orthodox Jews on a red-eye from Mexico City was enough for flight attendants and pilots to declare a "security threat," lock down the cockpit and call in FBI agents to meet the plane as it taxied into Gate 210 at LAX.

Things started to get really crazy when, mid-flight, the three suspects broke out their tefillin...

... or, little black boxes filled with Torah scrolls, then strapped to their bodies with black leather straps. Kind of strange-looking, yes, but terror-inducing?

Apparently. From the Daily News:

Initial reports said the passengers were rowdy and that a fight had broken out on board.

Police and a full assignment of fire trucks met Alaska Airlines flight 241 as it arrived at LAX at 8:30 a.m. Three men were escorted off the plane by police, questioned by the FBI and then released to make connecting flights to other countries, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. ...

The Alaska Airlines spokeswoman explained that "shortly after takeoff, a flight attendant saw what she believe was unusual behavior from three passengers on board. The three passengers were praying aloud in Hebrew and were wearing what appeared to be leather straps on their foreheads and arms."

The plane was met with a fleet of L.A. firefighters, FBI agents, TSA gropers and Customs officials as it rolled into LAX, all of whom quickly realized the men were harmless.

"We're obligated, of course, to respond when the (air) flight calls us out to clear up concerns," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told the Daily News. "Because they were not charged with anything, we don't release any kind of personal information. They were Mexican nationals, traveling openly overseas, and their travel continued overseas."

A similar scare took place last year in New York, when 14-year-old Caleb Liebowitz was questioned at gunpoint for donning the religious contraption. It seems that this time around, at least, investigators were a little more gentle toward their suspected rebels.

Want to rile up a planeful of skittish athiests? Here's how the tefillin work:

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

Related Content

Now Trending

  • EDC Vegas Raver Montgomery Tsang Died From an Ecstasy Overdose

    A young man who collapsed outside Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas died from an ecstasy overdose, the Clark County Coroner's office announced today. Following the results from toxicology tests, coroner's investigators determined that 24-year-old Montgomery Tsang of San Leandro, California died from "acute methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) toxicity," a coroner's official told...
  • Here Are L.A.'s Top 5 Promiscuous Neighborhoods

    Which neighborhoods see the most hook-ups in Los Angeles? The app Spreadsheets, which helps singles track sexual performance, record their bedroom "achievements," log the duration of intercourse, and parse other data crucial to users in 133 countries across the globe, crunched its local user data just for L.A. Weekly. And so,...
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are on the Rise in California

    Some of you have been naughty. Others not so nice. And we're about half way to Christmas. The California Department of Public Health this week announced that rates for key sexually transmitted diseases went way up in 2013. Young women have some of the highest rates of STDs in the Golden...
    4
Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.
  • La Brea Tar Pits "Pit 91" Re-Opening
    Starting June 28th, The Page Museum once again proudly unveils the museum's Observation Pit, which originally opened in 1952 but has spent most of the last half century closed. Now visitors can get an up-close look at Pit 91, which is currently under excavation. The La Brea Tar Pits, home of the Page Museum, is one of the world's most famous ice age fossil locations, known for range of fossils from saber-toothed cats and mammoths to microscopic plants, seeds and insects. The new "Excavator Tour" is free with museum admission if purchased online at tarpits.org . All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Scenes from the O.J. Simpson Circus
    In the months after O.J. Simpson's arrest for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in the summer of 1994, the drama inside the courthouse riveted the masses. But almost as much mayhem was happening right outside the building, as well as near Simpson's Brentwood home. Dissenters and supporters alike showed up to showcase art inspired by the case, sell merchandise, and either rally for, or against, the accused football star. Here is a gallery of the madness, captured by a photojournalist who saw it all. All photos by Ted Soqui.