Imams drop passengers from lawsuit over removal from flight

Marwan Sadeddin
Marwan Sadeddin, (C), shown in 2006, speaking to the news media about his removal from US Airways flight 300 in Minneapolis, along with fellow Muslim imams Omar Shahin (L), president of the North American Imams Federation, and Mahmoud Slyman (R) after landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona. The six were returning from attending a conference of the Federation.
Photo by Jeff Topping/Getty Images

(AP) The six imams who were removed from a US Airways flight after passengers reported they were acting suspiciously won't include those passengers in their lawsuit against the airline and police, an attorney for the imams said Wednesday.

Attorney Frederick Goetz of Minneapolis said a motion to amend the complaint to include the names of the individuals responsible for the imams' removal was entered Tuesday in U.S. District Court. He said that list includes the names of airline employees and police officers, but no passengers.

"We've identified the people we think are responsible," he said.

The Islamic religious leaders were removed from the flight last fall after passengers reported what they considered to be suspicious behavior. The imams, who were handcuffed and questioned, claim the airline discriminated against them and violated their civil rights.

Initially, the lawsuit named as defendants John Does who reported the suspicious behavior, later amending that to identify them as those who "may have made false reports" against the imams with the intent to discriminate.

Last week, lawmakers in Congress reached a deal on a homeland security bill to include language, crafted in response to the imams case, that would give immunity from lawsuits to people who report suspicious behavior.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.

Goetz said the amended complaint had "absolutely nothing to do" with the action in Congress.

On Nov. 20, the imams were at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, preparing to return to Phoenix after attending a conference in Minneapolis.

They have said that three of the men said their evening prayers in the airport terminal before boarding the plane, and that they entered the aircraft individually, except for one member who is blind and needed a guide. Once on the plane, the men did not sit together.

A passenger raised concerns about the imams through a note passed to a flight attendant. Also, witnesses reported that the imams made anti-American comments about the war in Iraq and that some asked for seat belt extensions even though a flight attendant thought they didn't need them.