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In The Skies With Mr. Islam

A staffer from the Naval War College who was on the Cat Stevens flight e-mails:

A co-worker and I were on that flight from London. We had no idea what the issue was until we got home. The first story from the crew about a half hour before scheduled landing was that weather was forcing a delay which didn’t sound plausible from the forecast I had checked just before departure. Then we break out of the clouds and I couldn’t match anything on the ground with what I know about Dulles from living next door for three years. As we crossed the runway threshold I saw a building with a Maine Air National Guard sign, knew it wasn’t Dulles, and couldn’t understand any reason why we weren’t told of this change unless there was a major national security problem underway. Suspicions were reinforced when we were told to stay in our seats and not use cell phones. In due time the captain informed us it was a TSA/FBI issue, and we were going to disembark to go through Customs/Immigration in Bangor, and then back through TSA to get on the airplane. I guess this was the plan to nab the Cat-man. After disembarking, my colleague and I decided to bail on the flight and drive home (Newport, RI) to avoid possible RON (remain overnight) at Dulles. I arrived home sometime after 11 p.m., and my son looked up the news in Google to discover it was Heathrow/United not figuring out that Cat Stevens was on the watch list. I’m thankful that our worst fears were not realized. Though it was a surreal/awkward experience, I can tell you that everyone in Bangor was extremely courteous and helpful, and quite military friendly (bonus points).


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Illegal leaks of classified information should be treated as a serious offense. But they would be easier to prevent if less information were classified.