Two news stories caught my attention today, both about terrorists that apparently weren't.
According to the BBC, American authorities forced a British Airways Boeing 747 to divert, three hours into a flight to New York. One of the passenger names matched a USA terrorist watch list. CNN says the captain was given the option of landing in Maine, but chose instead to return to London. There, the passenger, who was travelling on a legitimate French passport, was met by police, questioned, and released.
Why return to London when Maine was closer to the intended destination? By the time the aircraft had landed in Bangor, completed immigration procedures and prepared for departure, the time remaining for the continued flight to New York may have exceeded the the pilots' duty time. The time required to allow a full rest period for the original crew, or to transport a replacement crew from the UK to Maine would have been greater than for the return to London, where a replacement crew could be waiting. I'll leave it up to the police to determine whether the delay and expense was necessary in the case of this individual.
The second story, reported by the CBC is that one of two Turkish nationals who took advantage of the American terrorism paranoia was sentenced on Tuesday. In June 2004 he called in a a fake bomb threat to delay departure of an American Airlines flight, so a friend wouldn't miss a flight. Kind of like pulling the fire alarm in school right before a test you haven't studied for. And that would have got you detention, too.
Remember: only the United States Joint Terrorism Task Force is allowed to delay you and your fellow passengers' travel plans by claiming you are a terrorist.