A newly released Department of Homeland Security report details the behavior of 13 Middle Eastern men aboard a 2004 flight — behavior that some air marshals have publicly called a dry run for a terrorist attack, the Washington Times reports.
The report, issued by the department's Office of the Inspector General, found that the men aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on June 29, 2004, acted suspiciously and government officials failed to file a timely report of the incident, among other missteps.
The men — 12 Syrians and 1 Lebanese-born promoter — were traveling on expired visas when they aroused suspicion both before boarding and onboard the flight with activities that included one man appearing to get ready to storm the cockpit before ducking into a restroom, where he remained for 20 minutes.
In the report, the inspector general criticizes homeland security officials for failing to report the incident to the Homeland Security Operations Center — the nation's nerve center for information sharing and domestic incident management, the paper reports.
"This report is evidence of Homeland Security executives attempting to downplay and cover up an unmistakable dry run that forced flight attendants to reveal the air marshals and compel the pilots to open the flight deck door," Robert MacLean, a former air marshal fired last year for revealing that the agency planned to cut back on protection for long-distance flights, told the Times.