Iraqi refugee taken off California flight

April 18, 2016
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi

Southwest Airlines escorted an Iraqi refugee off a flight in Los Angeles after another passenger became alarmed when she heard the man speaking in Arabic. Federal investigators later determined the man posed no threat, but the Iraqi-American man is accusing the airline of Islamophobia. [New York Times]

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, is a senior at University of California Berkeley. Makhzoomi lives with his mother and younger brother in Oakland. His father was an Iraqi diplomat whom Saddam Hussein jailed in Abu Ghraib prison. The dictator’s regime later killed him.

On April 6, Makhzoomi boarded a Southwest Airlines flight at LAX that was headed for Oakland. After boarding, Makhzoomi called an uncle in Baghdad to tell him that he had just heard United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon deliver a speech.

Makhzoomi told his uncle that he asked the secretary general a question about ISIS. The conversation ended with the Arabic phrase, “inshallah” or god willing.

A female passenger in a seat nearby overheard the conversation and told the flight crew she heard him making potentially threatening statements.

An Arabic-speaking Southwest Airlines employee of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent then came to Makhzoomi’s seat and asked him why he was speaking in Arabic on the plane. Makhzoomi responded by saying, “This is what Islamophobia got this country into.”

The Southwest employee then escorted him off the plane, and Makhzoomi accused the employee of anti-Muslim bias.

Law enforcement officials searched Makhzoomi in the airport terminal in front of a crowd of onlookers, including other officers and a police dog. Three FBI agents then arrived and questioned him in a private room.

Makhzoomi said an FBI agent told him the Southwest Airlines employee said a passenger reported hearing him talk in Arabic about martyrdom, using a phrase often associated with jihadists. Makhzoomi denied the charge and returned to the terminal where the Arabic-speaking employee refunded his ticket.

The Berkeley student booked a new flight on Delta Air Lines and arrived in Oakland eight hours after he had planned. Makhzoomi said he does not plan to pursue legal action, but he wants Southwest Airlines to apologize for the ways its employees treated him.

Zahra Biloo, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said there have been at least six cases of airlines pulling Muslims off flights so far this year. Southwest Airlines released a statement saying it does not condone or tolerate discrimination of any kind.

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It isn’t “Islamaphobia” if there is justifiable basis for the fear. Fool is in OUR country and he knows Islam is out to exterminate us. he better do everything possible to fit in and placate those around him. That includes NOT speaking Arabic on the plane. Fool. If I had been there he was smarting off to the flight attendant I would have slapped him upside the head and dragged him off the plane myself.

An Arabic-speaking Southwest Airlines employee of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent then came to Makhzoomi’s seat and asked him why he was speaking in Arabic on the plane.

Makhzoomi responded by saying, “This is what Islamophobia got this country into.”

He was confrontational by refusing to answer her question. Deport him.

Deport people because someone uses words.

Go to jail because someone disrespected a cop.

That’s fascism, un American and probably racist.

The actor James woods was on a flight prior to 911. Several men, also in first class, were speaking Arabic and acting suspiciously. James woods informed the crew and nothing was done.

After 911 he was contacted by the FBI. It turns out the men were several of the 911 hijackers, casing the flight and doing a dry run.

You have the right to keep your mouth shut. Others have the right to convey their concerns. Call us racists all you want. Those are words. They don’t hurt as much as explosions and beheadings.

This kid set up the airline. Why do you think the story was in the ny times the very next day?

No , it’s common sense. When someone in authority asks you a question, you give a complete and honest answer, This guy was pulling the “islamaphobia” card in the wrong place.

Heard the new SLO Police Chief say today, “If you see something, say something”, which we may assume can be extended to hearing as well.

Damned if you do, could be dead if you don’t.

Err on the side of caution, better safe than sorry.

If you’re on a plane and a guy says “inshallah” in Arabic, there’s no need to fear.

BUT if you hear him yell “allah akbar!” and he brandishes a knife/box cutter/gun/suicide vest/sword, be ready to tackle him.

pasoparent5 says: BUT if you hear him yell “anything” and he brandishes anything, do something!

Fixed it for you, but you can make it about Islamophobia if that’s what you are into.

Also you are making Khairuldeen’s point about Islamophobia and ignorance.

Maybe the woman that reported this individual was a true Christian and she took the stance to error on the side of caution.

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, AND HANDS THAT SHED INNOCENT BLOOD, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6: 16-19)

Besides, its hard not to think in this same manner if you were sitting on that plane under the same circumstances. ISIS and 911 is responsible for this type of reaction, and unfortunately the Muslim community is going to have to get use to it.

The guy should sue the idiots at Southwest.

Seems like both overreacted.


Yes, paranoia and racism, on the plane and the anonymous downvoters.

People just love a good conspiracy, that’s why they still manufacture tin hats and are weary of black copters

We are at war and until it’s won we will have these issues pop up. They ask us “if we see something say something” That’s all she did. If you speak Arabic and you are having a conversation in Arabic about ISIS which sounds like ISIS in Arabic than expect problems if you are overheard on a freaking airliner. DUH He knows better.

We are not at war, stop supporting Islamophobia.

If a southern christian (with a drawl) on the plane “told his uncle that he asked the secretary a question about ISIS, god willing” would you alert homeland?

Are southern Christians now blowing up planes?

“We are not at war, stop supporting Islamophobia.”

Really Kettle? You think we are not at war? What do you call it? We still can’t get on a plane without getting searched. Men and women are deployed to combat zones all over the middle east and northern Africa. I mean putting on blinders is an understatement my man. Can you safely travel to Egypt? or Jordan or Iraq? You need a big dose of reality.

Yeah, but he’s going to one of our expensive, taxpayer-supported indoctrination centers, so of course he’s going to scream racism! phobia!.

He needs his safe space…but everyone else can go to hell.

Thank a “teacher” for the proliferation of this attitude.

Better safe than sorry.

We are told to be vigilant, after all.

How about using better judgement and call your Uncle in Bagdad after the flight lands.

This reeks of a publicity stunt.

We are told to be……. lol

sez the guy replying to his own comment.

“This reeks of a publicity stunt”.

I agree 100% He is attempting to profit off of this whole charade and the powers that be in this nation will bend over as usual. After we gave him an education this is how he repays us? Send his butt back to Iraq along with his entire family. Make America Great again.

Hahaha…”make America Great again”! Be careful of who you idolize…

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump, who has made his advocacy for New York City after the 9/11 attacks central to his candidacy, accidentally referred to it on Monday as 7/11 — the ubiquitous convenience store.

Donald Trump’s field director quit

“I wrote this out, and it’s very close to my heart,” he said at the outset of his remarks on Buffalo on Monday evening. “Because I was down there and I watched our police and our firemen down at 7/11, down at the World Trade Center right after it came down. And I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action.” The businessman did not correct himself.

Trump…what a tool.

So I guess you after months of grueling campaigning would be mistake free? If so you should run…

Oh poor Donald…it’s so grueling out on the road. So what. He signed up for it…he’s still a tool.

Next. If this had been Hilary, Obama, etc…you would be at them with pitchforks and torches…screaming “disrespect to the victims of 9/11” or some bullshit like that.

NOBODY gets a pass in the political arena.