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US Airways seeks imam-suit dismissal

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2007

US Airways is asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a group of Muslim imams, saying the airline followed government guidelines when it removed the men from a flight because of suspicious behavior.

The response to the lawsuit, filed March 12 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, says the airline "is required to adhere to the main points of the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Common Strategy regarding security threats in the aviation context."

The strategy advises flight crew members to be "alert for odd or suspicious behavior during all interactions with passengers in the gate area, during the boarding process and during routine flight duties and passenger interactions," the response to the lawsuit states.

"Flight crewmembers are required to mentally assess each passenger's behavior and the potential for threat. Moreover, the common strategy notes that this is a subjective analysis, and recognizes that there is no key factor that applies in every situation," it states.

"Notably, the common strategy advises flight crews to "Presume the worst," and "Be suspicious about any passenger disturbance," the response states.

The imams' lawsuit also names the Metropolitan Airports Commission and unidentified John Does as defendants. Their claims include false arrest, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, failure to train, conspiracy to discriminate and negligence.

The airline says it denied transportation to Ahmed Shqeirat, Mohamed Ibrahim, Didmar Faja, Omar Shahin, Mahmoud Sulaiman and Marwan Sadeddin in November "due to security concerns."