Iraqi student booted from flight, interrogated by FBI for speaking Arabic

Khairuldeen Mahkzoomi, an Iraqi refugee who escaped Saddam Hussein's regime, was escorted from a Southwest flight and interrogated for saying a traditional Arabic farewell.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
April 17, 2016 10:42
1 minute read.
A Flight

A Flight. (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

UC Berkeley student Khairuldeen Mahkzoomi was removed from a Southwest flight and questioned by the FBI two weeks ago for using a traditional Arabic greeting during a phone call, The Daily Californian reported.

Makhzoomi, who had boarded a flight from Los Angeles to Oakland, was reported to authorities by another passenger after he said the phrase "inshallah" meaning "if God is willing" to his uncle in Baghdad on the phone.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Makhzoomi, a refugee who fled Iraq in 2002 after his father was killed by Saddam Hussein, had attended the Los Angeles World Affairs Council with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the previous night.

Makhzoomi realized something was amiss when he noticed a female passenger was glaring at him, “She kept staring at me and I didn’t know what was wrong,” he commented to the Daily Californian.

As the passenger left her seat, he feared the worst, "I realized what was happening and I just was thinking ‘I hope she’s not reporting me.’”

The passenger reported hearing Makhzoomi utter the word "shahid" meaning martyr, often used in association with acts of terror.

After Makhzoomi was escorted from the plane and informed he would not be permitted to return, he was subsequently searched by security officials and interrogated by the FBI.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


Makhzoomi related to the Daily Californian that the experience brought back painful memories, “The way they searched me and the dogs, the officers, people were watching me and the humiliation made me so afraid because it brought all of these memories back to me. I escaped Iraq because of the war, because of Saddam and what he did to my father."

Makhzoomi considered taking legal action against Southwest Airlines but decided against it.

The airline company offered this response to the event: “We regret any less than positive experience on board our aircraft. … Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.”

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

benjamin netanyahu
September 24, 2018
PM off to New York – will meet Trump on Wednesday, address UN on Thursday

By HERB KEINON