Who Were Those Musicians on Annie Jacobsen’s Flight Anyway?

Listen to their song, “Martyr’s Mother” by Laura Mansfield.

Several weeks ago, an article by Annie Jacobsen of Women’s Wall Street received a good deal of attention. The article chronicled a frightening experience she had on Northwest Airlines flight 327 from Detroit to LAX on June 29. In the article, she described the unusual behavior of a group of middle eastern men on the flight, including actions that caused some on the plane to fear that a terror attack was in progress.

Ms. Jacobsen was told by authorities that the men were verified to be members of a band en route to play a gig at a Southern California casino. Clinton Taylor checked with the Sycuan Resorts and Casino in Al Cajon, CA, near San Diego. The Casino verified that the artist Nour Mehanna and his backup band in fact performed at the casino on July 1. (www.sycuancasino.com)

The group was apparently booked by a promoter called Anthem Artists (http://www.anthemartists.com/AA_show_archives.html). Taylor confirmed with James Cullen of Anthem Artists that Nour Mehana’s large band did arrive at LAX on Northwest Flight 327. The band was apparently questioned by law enforcement for several hours, then allowed to go.

According to a report by Scott Weinburger on MSNBC, the group of musicians had expired visas. Although this certainly does not conclusively indicate the men were involved in terrorism in any way, Michelle Malkin aptly points out that “until September 11, 2001, the Visa Overstayers Club also included “student” Hani Hanjour and ‘businessmen and tourist’ Nawaf al-Hazmi and Satam al-Suqami”, who were involved in the September 11 attacks.

But who is Nour Mehana anyway?

Nour Mehana, from Syria, is a well known singer in the Arab world.

It is interesting to note that Nour Mehana’s previous occupation was a reciter of the Holy Qu’ran. Although I’ve been unable to verify Mehanna’s religion, it would be highly unusual for a non-Muslim to choose a reciter of Qur’an as a profession.

One of Mehana’s recent songs, Um Shaheed which translates to the Martyr’s Mother, only serves to increase the level of concern regarding the actions on the plane.

It talks about the death of a Palestinian boy. The mother is advised not to mourn but to rejoice, since the son has died for the freedom of Palestine. It ends with the chants of the jihadis: “Allahu Akbar”.

What were Nour Mehanna and his backup band doing on the plane? Was it a “dry run” for a terror attack, as has been suggested? Was it a case of a group “testing the system”? Were they just playing a prank on the other passengers? Or did they not have a clue about the concern they were raising? I doubt if anyone will ever know the answer to that question other than Mehana and his band.

Certainly to me their behavior on the flight that day sounded suspicious. It has been widely reported that flight attendants and air marshals claim that they often witness cases of “pulsing” or “testing” the system. What if the cases where people appear to be testing the system are doing something more: desensitizing the flight crews and air marshals. What if they get used to seeing this type of behavior so frequently that it stops sending on alarms for them? Would they recognize the “real thing” quickly enough to stop it?

Something to think about.