Detroit Bound Flight Crew Made Jittery by Muslim Passengers

Four Muslim men are questioned after one hides his head under a blanket.

ByABC News
January 12, 2010, 3:43 PM

Jan. 12, 2010— -- Another jittery flight crew questioned the actions of a few Muslim passengers today, causing yet another flight to be delayed and police to question the four men.

As Northwest Airlines flight 243 from Amsterdam to Detroit -- the same route taken by a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane Christmas Day -- began its descent on Detroit, four passengers began to act in ways that alarmed their fellow passengers.

One or more of the men reportedly pulled a blanket over his head. When the plane landed at around 1:05 p.m., it was met by police.

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In a statement sent to ABC News, the Transportation Security Administration said it was "notified of unruly passengers" on the flight. Federal authorities, including agents from Customs & Border Protection, Federal Air Marshals, and the FBI agents, held the plane from the gate for 15 minutes.

Customs officers questioned and then released the four passengers, whom other passengers identified as men of Middle Eastern descent in their 20s.

No arrests will be made in connection with the incident. Law enforcement offered no information on the passengers or their alleged actions.

Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott said that "four passengers did not comply with crew-member instruction. Out of caution, the crew requested that authorities meet the plane upon landing." Northwest is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta.

"If it was serious at all," said Detroit Metro Airport spokesperson Mike Conway, "they would not have allowed the plane to taxi to the terminal."

This is just the latest in a string of panicked calls to police over incidents on planes that turned out to be nothing.

Last week, the Oregon Air National Guard scrambled two F-15 fighter jets after a passenger on a Hawaiian Airlines jet to Maui refused to let go of his carry-on bag and passed what was described as a "disturbing note" to a flight attendant.

Keoni Wagner, vice president of public affairs for the airline, called it a very "low-level" incident involving one disruptive passenger. Airport officals said the plane refueled and took off again for Hawaii. There were 231 passengers on board.