Monday, October 09, 2006

Vigilantes on a Plane

A top British designer and well-known architect was assaulted on a plane and escorted from his flight by a vigilante claiming to be a police officer, while the airline staff did nothing and the passengers cheered.

Just another day at the airport for Muslims, Arabs, Indians and Sikhs, right? Except there was a catch.

The architect, Seth Stein, is Jewish.

The reported sequence of events is:

  1. Concerned by Stein's tanned skin and his iPod, a passenger identifying himself as Michael Wilk and claiming to be a police officer alerted the cabin crew that Stein was acting suspiciously by going to the toilet.

  2. The cabin crew informed the supposed "police officer" that the captain had done a security check on Stein and cleared him, and asked him to return to his seat.

  3. On returning to his seat, Wilk assaulted Stein, grabbing him in a headlock and rummaging around in his clothes and pockets. The cabin crew did nothing to intervene.

  4. On arriving in New York, Stein was escorted from the plane, to the applause of the frightened sheeple on the plane.

  5. Embarassed police at New York helped fast-track Stein out of the airport.

Why were the people on the plane frightened? Because the supposed police officer cried Wolf. There was no reason to be afraid except that "Wilk" (if that is his real name) made them frightened with his bogus accusation that Stein was a terrorist.

Remember, the aim of terrorists is to spread fear. Killing people is just a means to an end. "Wilk" succeeded in spreading fear and anxiety, and he did it, not by claiming to be a terrorist, but by falsely accusing somebody else of being a terrorist.

But notice the really scary thing. Wilk could easily have planted something in Stein's pockets. A printed bomb threat. A packet of white powder. A bottle of liquid. How easy would it be to frame some innocent party for making terrorist threats? If Stein had been some angry young Arab who took a swing at the real cops when they came on board, who would believe that he'd been stitched up?

The original story (now archived) is here. The story has been mirrored here, and Bruce Schneier discusses it here.

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