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weblet
10-03-2006, 06:25 AM
Man questioned and misses flight for speaking Tamil


A 32-year-old man speaking Tamil and some English about a sporting rivalry was questioned at Seattle-Tacoma Airport and missed his flight Saturday because at least one person thought he was suspicious.
A 32-year-old man speaking Tamil and some English about a sporting rivalry was questioned at Sea-Tac Airport and missed his flight Saturday because at least one person thought he was suspicious. The Port of Seattle dispatched its police officers to investigate the case, which occurred Saturday around noon, said Bob Parker, airport spokesman. The Chicago man was preparing to board an American Airlines flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The man was speaking Tamil, a language largely used in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore, on his cell phone at the departure gate and on the aircraft. An off-duty airline employee heard the conversation and informed the flight crew. The man also apparently said something in English about a sporting rivalry at his alma mater. "It's a big misunderstanding," said Parker. "He had a perfectly innocent explanation that all added up." Parker said it is incumbent on airport officials to investigate reports of suspicious activity. "It's hard to triage over the phone," he said. But Parker had no explanation as to why a man speaking Tamil, which is spoken worldwide, would be considered suspicious. The person who contacted airport officials could give an answer to that question, he added. Parker said the man was cooperative and boarded a later flight to Texas. He told officials that he would not speak in a foreign language on his cell phone at an airport in the future. [/b]

jfrenaye
10-03-2006, 07:02 AM
I don't think it is kinda sorta ridiculous. We need to be more like El Al and profile everyone on the plane and if it is an inconvenience take Greyhound.

I look at this situation as a foreigner (ok , not PC but I don't know if he is hindu, muslim, or what) talking a foreign tongue on the cell phone, on an almost transcontinental flight, peppering his conversation with comments associated with a college "sporting rivalry". Hell yes, I would raise the flag.

We don't know the words uttered, but I would suspect they might be somthing like "we're gonna show them", "we're gonna kill them", "we will give then what they deserve", "after all these years, we will teach them who's boss".....

Now toss into the mix an off duty flight crew member who may have lost a friend or two in 2001 and.....

Sorry for the inconvenience sir, but......


And, English is the required language for all Air Traffic Control communication worldwide. Food for thought!

jfrenaye
10-03-2006, 07:16 AM
I just got this alert and I want to say I know nothing about the language and so forth, but the word Tamil stuck out at me! Surface to air missiles? I say that it was a better call then originally thought.

Tamil [/b]Tiger Weapons Smuggling Ring: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested and charged four men Sept. 29 for conspiring to sell arms and equipment to Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels and to customers in Indonesia. ICE officials charged the men with conspiring to export surface-to-air missiles, machine guns, ammunition and night vision goggles to the Tamil Tigers. ICE officials identified the suspects as Haniffa Bin Osman, a citizen of Singapore; Erick Wotulo and Haji Subandi of Indonesia and Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, of Sri Lanka. Additional charges against Osman, the suspected leader, include conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and money laundering. Police arrested the suspects in Guam after a sting operation in Maryland. The suspects submitted a purchase order for USD 900,00 worth of weapons and attempted to negotiate an additional order of weapons for USD 15 million. The men face a maximum sentence of five years in jail for conspiracy to export arms. Subandi, Osman and Wotulo also face up to 15 years in jail for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and 20 years in prison if convicted of money laundering.

iJET Analysis
The arrests follow a string of successes for U.S. and Canadian officials, who have been following the Tamil Tigers' activities in North America for approximately four years. The FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested 11 individuals in an earlier LTTE weapons sting. The Canadian arrest came on the heels of another major bust Aug. 19 when New York authorities arrested four men in an undercover operation as they tried to purchase SA 18 surface-to-air missiles, missile launchers, AK-47 assault rifles and other weaponry for export to Sri Lanka. Charges against the men included using charities, such as the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, World Tamil Movement and the World Tamil Coordinating Committee, for fundraising and money laundering purposes, and attempting to bribe U.S. State Department officials in order to remove the LTTE from its list of terror organizations. Previous investigations have found that much of the money used to purchase weapons and bribe officials originated in Montreal. LTTE suspects had gathered "tens of thousands of dollars" in order to bribe an undercover U.S. federal agent posing as a corrupt immigration officer in July. Earlier in April, the RCMP raided the headquarters of the World Tamil Movement in Montreal for documents related to financing and facilitating terror activities. The Mounties implicate these Tamil gangs in a wide variety of criminal activities, including extortion, home invasion, attempted murder, theft, heroin and human trafficking, arms smuggling, counterfeiting of passports, fraud and money laundering. According to a March 2006 Human Rights Watch report, LTTE representatives resort to harsh practices, including extortion and threats of physical violence, to secure funding from Tamils living in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Canada, India, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and the European Union list the LTTE as a terror organization. The latest sting operation will provide authorities with a clearer insight into LTTE logistical operations but it is doubtful whether the recent string of arrests will halt LTTE activities outside Sri Lanka. The group's leadership relies strongly on the Tamil diaspora to fund its struggle for a separatist Tamil homeland, a conflict that continues to intensify military skirmishes in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. [/b]

tdew
10-03-2006, 09:13 AM
It could also have been the tone ot the telephone conversation that made people uneasy, even if the language wasn't understood

ARTraveler
10-03-2006, 10:24 AM
Have you ever been through the Miami airport (particularly the AA check in area) at a very busy time?
Most of the gate agents are screaming in Spanish, and that's just normal conversation. I avoid the Miami airport any time I can.

REDJIM
10-03-2006, 04:10 PM
In Michigan we call them Party Stores: they sell beer, lotto, cigs, pop, booze and decades old deli sandwiches. They cash paychecks too for 25% viggorish.

So I stop in yesterday to treat a few of my vices. My purchase is on the counter and there are two cashiers flipping through a clip board of papers and looking into the cash register drawer. "$4.85", the sweet young thing pronounces to me after eyeballing my selections. While I draw out my wallet the two clerks begin a foreign language engagement that freezes me out. I mean; FREEZES ME OUT. I wait for about 30 seconds for the jibberish to subside and one of them to acknowledge the fiver I'm holding out. Nothing. Their jibberish continues. A bit disconcerted at their lack of attention, I put the bill on the counter and slide it between them. Paper flipping, drawer looking. I'm the Invisible Man in their little exchange.

Perhaps if the same thing happened in a store where two insolent clerks speaking english chose to ignore me, I'd have made a nasty scene--in english and laced with the 50 some years of expletives I've come to master. But here, in this foreign land, costumed as an American party store, I just pulled my $5 back, left the purchase on their counter and uttered under my breath as I walked out: go bankrupt you morons. Go home.

So my belief is, after that diatribe, honor local customs and speak the accepted language. Or suffer the consequences of your selfishness.

tdew
10-03-2006, 06:40 PM
A similar experience - only the clerk was on the phone speaking a language I didn't understand.
I had my money in hand and held it out to him - he held his hand up to me to say "wait"

I left too...

clarkef
10-12-2006, 12:04 AM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jfrenaye @ Oct 3 2006, 08:02 AM) 38529</div>
I don't think it is kinda sorta ridiculous. We need to be more like El Al and profile everyone on the plane and if it is an inconvenience take Greyhound.

I look at this situation as a foreigner (ok , not PC but I don't know if he is hindu, muslim, or what) talking a foreign tongue on the cell phone, on an almost transcontinental flight, peppering his conversation with comments associated with a college "sporting rivalry". Hell yes, I would raise the flag.

We don't know the words uttered, but I would suspect they might be somthing like "we're gonna show them", "we're gonna kill them", "we will give then what they deserve", "after all these years, we will teach them who's boss".....

Now toss into the mix an off duty flight crew member who may have lost a friend or two in 2001 and.....

Sorry for the inconvenience sir, but......
And, English is the required language for all Air Traffic Control communication worldwide. Food for thought!
[/b]
That makes absolutely no sense. Not even a little. First, an off duty flight attendant has no idea this gentlemen's citizenship. Second, speaking a foreign language cannot be considered suspicious. I doubt if we would even be having this conversation if the gentlement were speaking French, Italian, or any other Western European language.

I'm for profiling, but I it must be done with sophisication and common sense.

clarkef
10-12-2006, 12:14 AM
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(REDJIM @ Oct 3 2006, 05:10 PM) 38614</div>
While I draw out my wallet the two clerks begin a foreign language engagement that freezes me out. I mean; FREEZES ME OUT. I wait for about 30 seconds for the jibberish to subside and one of them to acknowledge the fiver I'm holding out. Nothing. Their jibberish continues. A bit disconcerted at their lack of attention, I put the bill on the counter and slide it between them. Paper flipping, drawer looking. I'm the Invisible Man in their little exchange.

Perhaps if the same thing happened in a store where two insolent clerks speaking english chose to ignore me, I'd have made a nasty scene--in english and laced with the 50 some years of expletives I've come to master. But here, in this foreign land, costumed as an American party store, I just pulled my $5 back, left the purchase on their counter and uttered under my breath as I walked out: go bankrupt you morons. Go home.

So my belief is, after that diatribe, honor local customs and speak the accepted language. Or suffer the consequences of your selfishness.
[/b]
Wow, that's alot of insults in one post. Agreed, you were treated poorly. Yet, that hardly justifies delving into such vitriole. Lets see, you called repeatedly called their language jibberish. You have no idea what they were talking about, it may or may not have been work related or even the level of English proficiency of the clerks. You called their store the foreign land, wished them bankruptcy, and ended with the time honored,"go home".

Sounds like someone entered the store with an several pre-conceived notions.

Incidentally, most of my clients are foreign born, naturalized citizens who love America with a passion and ferver that would put most native born Americans to shame.

Kairho
10-12-2006, 07:54 AM
Just caught up on this thread as I was out on vacation.

But I wonder what could happen if you were in Rwanda and speaking English into a cell phone. English is not universal...but apparently paranoia is.

And English as the universal air traffic control language is coincidental ... it was almost French, just as the official language of the US was almost German.