Oct 30 2010
Star Tribune A flight from Minneapolis to Grand Forks that was carrying 20 passengers, including three Saudi aviation students new to the U.S., was diverted to Fargo and searched for explosives after the crew mistakenly determined a lavatory smoke detector had been tampered with, authorities said.
The three students spoke little English and had just arrived in the U.S. from Saudi Arabia to study aviation at the University of North Dakota. They were stopped by Minneapolis airport police for about 20 minutes but allowed to board the flight once their passports and student visas were checked, UND researcher Pablo de Leon, who was on the flight, told the Grand Forks Herald.
The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday said a search for explosives onboard the Bombardier CRJ200 jet that was also carrying three crew members turned up nothing. Passengers were bused the 75 miles to Grand Forks.
The three Saudi students are part of a contract UND signed last month with the Saudi Ministry of the Interior to train pilots, university spokesman Peter Johnson told the Herald.
The students were perplexed by all the commotion Sunday, he said. They plan to take English-as-a-second-language classes before beginning their pilot studies. (Have they learned how to say, “We don’t want to learn how to land?”)
Fifteen of the 19 men who hijacked planes and carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were from Saudi Arabia. Several of the attackers enrolled in U.S. flight schools.