Saturday, January 23, 2010

religious ignorance = terrorist threat

From Quay, Rose and Halladay with the C-J...

A teenager bound for Louisville to visit his grandmother caused a scare on a US Airways flight on Thursday when a flight attendant became suspicious over a Jewish prayer he was conducting, causing the flight from New York to divert to Philadelphia.

A crew member on Flight 3079 from LaGuardia Airport to Louisville International Airport noticed Caleb Leibowitz, 17, of White Plains, N.Y., using a tefillin, a set of small black boxes that contains biblical passages attached to leather straps, said Lt. Frank Vanore with the Philadelphia Police Department. The straps wrap around the arm and the head, and are common among Orthodox Jewish men, according to rabbis.

“It caused some alarm to the flight attendant,” said Vanore, who added that from a distance the leather straps could be mistaken for wires.

Caleb explained the ritual after being questioned by crew members of the flight, which had left LaGuardia around 7:30 a.m. for Louisville, authorities said.

But officials with Chautauqua Airlines, which operated the flight, said crew members “did not receive a clear response” when they talked with the teen, prompting their decision to land in Philadelphia, according to a statement issued by Republic Airways, which owns Chautauqua.

Once the plane landed, Philadelphia police, members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and airport security officials entered the plane with guns drawn, according to a Louisville resident who was on the plane....

Using tefillin symbolizes giving God your thoughts, your actions and your heart, Litvin said....

Caleb eventually was taken off the plane after authorities questioned him, placed him in handcuffs and took him away in an SUV...Caleb was not arrested or charged. Vanore said the teen was questioned by police and the FBI....


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