US Airways did not discriminate against six imams when it removed them from a 2006 flight following passenger complaints, the U.S. Department of Transportation has concluded following an investigation:
"[W]e find the decision to remove the Imams from the aircraft was based on information available to the captain at the time and was reasonable. This information included the observation of a passenger who gave an unsolicited handwritten note to a Flight Attendant describing six suspicious Arab men spaced out in seats throughout the cabin referring to Allah and making anti-U.S. comments, the observations of a Flight Attendant that two of the six passengers requested seatbelt extenders, which can also be used as restraining devices or weapons even though only one passenger appeared to need the device as an extender."
"It appears that the captain decided to remove the Imams because of security concerns as a result of the sum of the Imams' actual and perceived behavior, not their race or ethnicity. The fact that the captain's concerns were not borne out in hindsight does not make the action that he took discriminatory."
The airline was faulted for failing to book the imams on later flights after law enforcement concluded they posed no threat. They were traveling from Minneapolis to Phoenix.
The letter detailing the investigation's conclusions was sent from DOT assistant general counsel Samuel Podberesky to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Jan. 14. CAIR filed a complaint on the imams' behalf and supported a lawsuit against the airline and the anonymous passengers who alerted flight attendants to some suspicious behavior. The "John Doe passengers" later were dropped from the litigation.
It wasn't a total waste, though. It led to this evisceration of CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper by Tucker Carlson. CAIR still posted it on YouTube.