Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shoshana Hebshi was cuffed, searched over 'appearance' at airport

A U.S. woman said Tuesday that she endured nearly four hours in police custody that included being forced off an airplane in handcuffs, strip-searched and interrogated at Detroit's airport on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks—all, she believes, because of her Middle Eastern appearance.

Shoshana Hebshi, 35, told The Associated Press she was one of three people removed from a Denver-to-Detroit Frontier Airlines flight after landing Sunday afternoon. Authorities say fighter jets escorted the plane after its crew reported that two people were spending a long time in a bathroom—the two men sitting next to Hebshi in the 12th row.

Hebshi said she didn't notice how many times the men went to the bathroom. "I wasn't keeping track," she said.

"I really wasn't paying attention," said Hebshi, a freelance writer, editor and stay-at-home mother of twin six-year-old boys who lives in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio. "I was minding my own business—sleeping, reading, playing on my phone."

The FBI has said the three didn't know each other. One man felt ill and got up to use the restroom and another man in the same row also left his seat to go to the bathroom. The FBI said they never were inside together.

Hebshi has written extensively on her blog about the incident, saying she felt "violated, humiliated and sure that I was being taken from the plane simply because of my appearance." more