An internal investigation has been launched by the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office following a report made by one of its employees on a Delta Air flight from Tampa. The employee reported four Palestinian American men for “suspicious behavior” while on the flight to Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport. However, it has since been revealed that the men were innocent and have provided a completely different account of the events that took place on the January 8 flight.
According to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office, an unnamed employee initially reported the men to the flight crew, who then called the police to meet the plane upon its arrival at MSP Airport. Allegedly, a flight attendant escorted the four men off the aircraft, “screaming” at them, and waited with them until the police officers arrived.
The sister of one of the men accused the airline staff and law enforcement of racial profiling, stating that the men were targeted because they were speaking in Arabic and English and wearing Palestinian necklaces.
An off-duty law enforcement passenger on the flight informed the police that she had witnessed the men getting up multiple times to use the bathroom and whispering to each other upon their return. She found their behavior odd and approached them, asking if they were on a “guy’s trip.” In response, one of the men allegedly jokingly told her that they were “CIA on a secret mission” while pointing to an unattended black bag.
However, the men dispute this version of events. They claim that the woman approached them while they were waiting in the aisle to use the bathroom and repeatedly asked about their trip. They jokingly responded that they had a “wedding mission to complete.”
After interviewing the men, the responding officers from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office concluded that no crime had been committed and that no further action was necessary.
In response to allegations of rude behavior by the flight attendant, a spokesperson for Delta stated that the airline is reaching out to its customers to gain a better understanding of what occurred and that they do not condone discriminatory conduct.
The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office has stated that it will thoroughly review all data related to the incident and ensure that its employees’ conduct aligns with the office’s values and policies.