If the crews who man Houston’s Bush Airport were overly cautious today, it’s tough to blame them, given how tense it must be at most if not all American airports right now. The L.A. Times’ Andrew Malcolm has the audio of the airport radio chatter leading up to capture of Time Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad, seconds from takeoff yesterday. As Malcolm writes, “Talk about a close call:”
Suspected Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was on a jumbo jet at New York’s Kennedy Airport late Monday night just seconds away from takeoff for the overnight flight to Dubai.
You’ll hear several voices on this audiotape. Ground controllers and departure controllers directing the Emirates Air Flight 202 pilot which runway to use and informing him he is No. 1 for takeoff.
A woman controller comes on, starts to deliver further takeoff directions. But then, suddenly, with the plane seconds from full throttle, she switches to another urgent instruction. She delivers a circumspect but no-nonsense message to the pilot.
He immediately obeys. He seeks directions which taxiway back to the departure gate.
The last voice is an Emirates Air ground officer, thinking ahead, seeking to keep the flight’s departure window open for a delayed departure. Heavy at the end of a flight number is a designation for jumbo jets, guiding air controllers to keep extra distance from the next plane trailing behind to allow the larger air turbulence to subside.
Meanwhile, via Allahpundit, details emerge of Shahzad’s background. Shahzad passed a background check last year to become a naturalized citizen. However, the Wall Street Journal reports, “Shahzad told interrogators that he received training in bomb making during a recent five-month trip to Pakistan, according to a senior U.S. official familiar with the matter.”
I am struck by the fact that [Shahzad] is a naturalized American citizen, not a recent or temporary visitor. This suggests that either he was a long-term sleeper agent (unlikely, for various reasons) or that he became over time immune to the charms of life in America, even Barack Obama’s America. Another unhopeful sign for the future of integration.
And as Allahpundit writes:
What’s not a good sign, as Thomas Joscelyn notes, is that this is the third attack in eight months that either came off successfully or failed only because of the bomber’s own incompetence. Hasan did what he set out to do and Abdulmutallab would have succeeded had his bomb been built a little better. There were major intel failures in those cases but I’m not sure if there’s one here — yet. Apart from profiling any young male who spends several months in Pakistan incommunicado — and after the Zazi plot and those five Americans arrested in Pakistan last year, maybe that’ll soon be on the table — there are no obvious solutions I’ve heard of thus far vis-a-vis catching a guy like Shahzad before he acts. The biggest intel bungle to date, in fact, was letting him get on the plane last night despite his having been added to the no-fly list earlier in the day. How’d that happen?
Which brings us back to where this post started. Talk about a close call.