Kathryn, I’m hearing from a
trusted source that the federal air marshals have thwarted quite a few
domestic hijacking plots since 9/11, but haven’t told the public about them,
presumably (this is my interpretation, not my source’s) because they don’t
want to unnerve the public. Frankly, I don’t believe the government’s story
about these guys being Syrian musicians playing in a desert casino. That
shouldn’t be too hard to check out, though, and I hope I’m proven wrong.
This incident reminded me of something that happened near my Louisiana
hometown a few weeks after 9/11. A friend of mine who flies in an ultralight
aircraft club was at the club’s rural “airport” (that is, a big shed and a
field long enough to take off from) one Saturday in October, 2001, when they
were approached by a blonde man with a foreign accent. The man drove up and
asked if someone would be willing to take him up to photograph petrochemical
facilities along the Mississippi. The pilots were startled, because their
airstrip is fairly obscure. They played dumb, and told the foreigner to come
back on Sunday, when they’d have fuel. When the man left, the pilots
notified the FBI.
The next day, the foreigner returned, and the FBI took him into custody. A
law enforcement official later told my father that the man was an Austrian
citizen who had been on a government watch list, and had been deported. The
story was never reported. I bet things like that are happening all the time.