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hiker_jack's avatar

What do you think about Shoshana Hebshi's arrest and strip-search after Sep 11th 2011 airplane terror scare?

Asked by hiker_jack (17points) February 10th, 2012

Just found this interesting blogpost ( where a freelance journalist from around Detroit describes an incident she had while on a flight from Denver to Detroit on Sep 11th 2011, when her seat neighbour who was from India and had stomach problems spent too much time in the restroom leading to a passenger alerting the crew, two F16s being hurried to shadow the plane, the storming of the plane in Detroit by antiterror units who arrested the indian man and his 2 seat neighbours (including Shoshana). She was locked in the airport prison still handcuffed (aren’t you supposed to have handcuffs removed while in a cell?), strip searched, handcuffed again and eventually interrogated by homeland security and let go after 4 hrs. She says that for most of this period she had no idea why she was being detained.

What do you think of this? I guess if besides this they would have used some enhanced interrogation techniques to make Shoshana admit to stuff she didn’t do we would be back in the days of Torquemada won’t we?

So what would you think if this happened to you? Worth going though it to feel safe while on a plane or a violation of your rights and presumption of innocence?

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21 Answers

rooeytoo's avatar

It is one of those situations where if the person had indeed been a terrorist and was arming a bomb in the rest room, the passenger who alerted the crew would be a hero. Since it didn’t turn out that way, it is racist profiling, etc. etc. etc.

I personally think anyone who acts suspiciously, for whatever reason, invites suspicion. Perhaps this person should have made their digestive problems known to the crew??? I vote for the better safe than sorry situation. If I unfortunately fit the profile of a criminal then it is the luck of the draw and I have to deal with it so that the rest of society feels secure. It sucks but it is the way it is.

auhsojsa's avatar

It’s an unfortunate reality :( I too would have sensed something fishy regardless of their “look” if the timing in the restroom was unreasonable. I’m curious to know how much time they actually spent in the restroom.

hiker_jack's avatar

@rooeytoo But the woman, Shoshana hadn’t acted in any way suspicious. So why strip search her and keep her handcuffed behind her back in her cell for 4 hours. To me that’s unnecessary cruelty and humiliation. Would you be ok with being treated like that just because you happen to stay near a man who is considered suspicious?

hiker_jack's avatar

This reminds me of the case of Erla Osk Arnardottir Lillendahl, the (very beautiful) icelandic young woman who overstayed her tourist visa in the US for 3 weeks in the 90s, then returned to the US repeatedly without any issues and then in 2007 after flying first class to do her Christmas shopping in NY with friends was detained at JFK for the visa overstaying issue, was kept handcuffed and shackled for 24 hours in a jail cell and walked through the whole airport in plain of everyone in heels and shackles making her cry from the pain of the shackles scraping skin of her bare ankles. Eventually she was put on an airplane back to Reikjavik. Would you say that was necessary as well.?

There was also a TSA employee at Reagan airport in DC who admitted some years ago that some employees were boosting up the sensivity of the xray machines whenever a ‘well-endowed’ female would pass through them so that it would give them a reason to take her to a private office and strip her and that some of them were afterwards made to duck walk around the room to see if something falls out (

Do you think these kind of procedures are ok?

saint's avatar

You’re right!!! Let’s just quit being vigilant about airline terrorists, and see what happens the next day.
Nobody is forced to fly on an airplane. If you don’t like the policy, find another mode of transportation.

hiker_jack's avatar

@saint I’m not saying stop being vigilant. But how did humiliating that woman and keeping her handcuffed for 4 hours during the interrogation make anyone safer? Why not treat her with respect and presumption of innocence?

saint's avatar

@hiker_jack Ask the TSA. It is not as if they are highly trained and sophisticated officers. They are low level government employees, given a fancy title in order to lock in their vote for the Democratic party.
If you want a different approach, spend the money on skilled observers of human behaviour and a multilayered screening process. The Israelis have done it for years. It is expensive, but you will get what you want.
FYI, my girlfriend is Arab, and she is routinely shaken down by the TSA. I am a veteran and all I can do is stand and watch. But, sometimes I want to fly, so what can you do?

auhsojsa's avatar

@hiker_jack I have a goddamn beard and look Pakistani even though I’m half Filipino/White (American, ancestors from Eastern European Jewish descent). I get looked at when I’m at the airports that’s just the way it is. Also, securities job is to discriminate.
Why though of all days would anyone want to test security? Ok, maybe they weren’t testing. Just having a good time to and fro from the restroom. Again, it’s a sad but unfortunate situation, the reality we live in, is that indeed there are those from the Middle East that are hired to do extraordinary things against American’s. :( :( Going to take many years for lower leveled security, in fact, it’s happening right now, yet on 9/11 it’s not a good idea to get caught kissing.

They were in the bathroom when the plane landed

Every plane I’ve been in there’s a courtesy call to get back into your seat. Not sure if such protocols existed for this plane. But I’m going to take a while guess and say there was.

This link has the AP video of quotes used in stories across the world

hiker_jack's avatar

@saint What do you mean by shaken down? What is her view of all this?

Zaku's avatar

I think Homeland Security should be disbanded and thoroughly investigated and the people responsible punished for all of their abuses. No, it is NOT OK to humiliate and abuse innocent people.

CWOTUS's avatar

Thanks for another breath of fresh air, @Zaku. I’ve long maintained that most “airport security” and “in-flight security” is nothing more than security theater meant to prove to us that “something is being done for our safety”, regardless of its effectiveness… or cost. This is just another example, and her treatment is meant specifically “to make an example of her”.

“Don’t dare to be different or this could happen to you.”

It’s because of foolishness and malicious treatment like this that simply uttering the word “bomb” in the wrong place in an airport can get a person arrested. Nonsense.

Zaku's avatar

@CWOTUS I absolutely agree.

auhsojsa's avatar

@CWOTUS Because yelling bomb in a place where bombs bode well with killing hundreds at a time isn’t a threat in your reality?

Coloma's avatar

I think it is a matter of WHO and WHERE.
I had a baggie of Taiwanese Tide blow up on the conveyor belt at Taipei airport in March of 2010. A few eyebrows were raised, but nobody grabbed me and strip searched me. It was ascertained it was detergent and NOT Heroin/Opium. This was coming out of serious contraband asian territory…luck o the draw.
I was joking profusely and the officials were laughing back. Ya never know.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I think that is scandalous. Sad thing too there is probably nothing she can do for that violation because they will say it was in the interest of national security. I am sure if they could have figured a way to coheres her by way of a phone book to the head, or a lit cigarette to the breast to get her to admit she was a terrorist, they would have. The only thing that separates the jack boots of other nations and the US is that we sing ”God Bless America” while we do it. That is another reason not to fly commercial.

Coloma's avatar


Well..unless you have a Lear Jet, the average traveler has to go commercial. Crappy experience, be expected in these times of travel, especially international travel.

CWOTUS's avatar

Don’t pin that nonsense on me, @auhsojsa. I said “saying the word”, not “yelling”. In an American airport these days if you “say the word” bomb so that it is overheard by “an authority” or if you simply make a joke about a bomb – which any reasonable person would recognize as a joke (without accounting for taste or originality) – then you can be arrested.

auhsojsa's avatar

No don’t assume that @CWOTUS. How could you assume “authorities” would know it’s a joke? Don’t play that non sense, some people actually took 9/11 seriously and “uttering” bomb around an airport is just plain childish. Anyways I’m not trying to change your view I respect it actually. You’ll have yours and I’ll have mines.

longtresses's avatar

Kind of a tangent here but don’t, uh, white-looking people ever get detained for suspicion of terrorism? That would make so much more sense..

rooeytoo's avatar

I think when you consider the numbers of folks who pass through airport security every day with no problems, the few that you hear about are the exceptions rather than the rule. Let’s face it, there are jerks in this world who abuse their position whether they be school teachers, cops, doctors, or waiters in a restaurant or airport security agents. If this was an abuse of power, then hopefully the person who perpetrated the abuse will be hung at dawn. I still think better safe than sorry though.

CWOTUS's avatar

You’re not tracking what I’m saying, @auhsojsa. TSA already has an extra-constitutional right to search me and my belongings in an airport. If I say to a TSA official “I have a bag in my bomb”, even as dumb and childish it may be, they already have a right to search me. But just for that statement I can also be arrested and prosecuted.

If you ask me, it’s the TSA and its government masters that are childish – with strong popular approval. This is how dictatorships start.

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