Detained men of Arab descent sue American Airlines
By Karyn Chenoweth Nov 2, 2007, 14:23 GMT
American Airlines is being sued by six passengers of Arab descent, a few who are American citizens, for being wrongfully detained and publicly humiliated after another passenger voiced "suspicions."
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit. It cites racial discrimination, contending the airline employees grounded their Aug. 28 flight from San Diego to Chicago in belief that they were security risks.
The AP reports that "the men were returning to the Detroit area after training Marines at California's Camp Pendleton on Iraqi culture when another passenger expressed concerns to guards partly because she heard the men speaking Arabic."
The plane turned around and taxied back to the gate as the men were then "segregated and detained" while the airline helped more than 100 passengers find hotel rooms, according to a prepared statement from the men.
The men suing American Airlines were listed as David Al-Watan, Talal Cholagh, Ali Alzerej, Hassan Alzerej, Hussein Alsalih and Mohammad Al-Saedy.
"They treated me like a terrorist," Al-Watan, 30, said in the statement. "We didn't do anything wrong, but they made everybody scared of us."
Flight 590's crew returned the plane to the gate to resolve potential security problems, airline spokesman Tim Wagner said in a statement.
"All passengers disembarked the aircraft after it was determined that it would not be able to redepart because of San Diego International Airport's 11:30 p.m. flight curfew," Wagner said. "Several passengers were briefly interviewed by law enforcement officers. No passenger was arrested."