Fact Check

Muslim Terrorist Killed While Trying to Hijack Airplane?

Rumor: A man in a burqa attempted to hijack a flight in Ohio, and the media refused to report it.

Published Jan 19, 2014

Claim:   A Muslim terrorist disguised in a burqa was killed trying to hijack a plane in Ohio, and the media purposely did not report the foiled plot.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail and Twitter, January 2015]

Muslim Terrorist Killed While Trying To Hijack Airplane In U.S. And You're Not Being Told About It

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One of Obama's Brothers! Make it VIRAL RT Muslim Terrorist Killed While Trying To Hijack Airplane


Origins:   On 7 January 2015, police responding to a reported disturbance at Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed a 41-year-old man named Hashim Hanif Ibn Abdul-Rasheed. According to initial news reports issued that same day, the man had attempted to purchase an airline ticket using identification belonging to an unspecified female and was refused at the counter. When he exited the airport, Abdul-Rasheed engaged in a confrontation with police during which he was mortally wounded:

Police shot a man to death at an Ohio airport after he lunged at an officer with a knife and, minutes earlier, tried to buy a plane ticket using identification that did not belong to him, investigators said.

The man had tried to buy a plane ticket with a woman's identification shortly before the shooting, [Columbus police spokesman Sgt. Rich] Weiner told reporters. After the airline rebuffed him, he tried to buy a ticket with another form of identification, but the airline also refused to make that sale.

Airport police were notified. They approached the man as he walked toward a "suspicious vehicle" that had been parked illegally for roughly 10 minutes, Weiner said.

During "the initial confrontation between the officer and this man, there was nothing that led the officers to believe at the beginning that this was going to be a consensual conversation," he said.

The incident was widely reported by large, national news sources such as ABC and the Associated Press. However, the Columbus shooting occurred on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France (during which twelve people were killed by two Islamist gunmen), and coverage of the latter incident far outweighed the former in the U.S. and abroad. Nonetheless, on 18 January 2015, a blog post alleging the Ohio airport incident had been "covered up" by the news media began to circulate. In that article, the writer incorrectly claimed Abdul-Rasheed was wearing a burqa and he "tried to board a plane and hijack it":

Did you hear about the Muslim man who dressed up like a woman in a burka, had two knives strapped to his legs, and tried to board an airplane and hijack it right in the center of America's heartland recently? Of course you haven't, have you? And the reasons why are going to shock, but not really surprise you.

In the first week of January, 2015, a black American Muslim (and gee, now we know why you're not hearing about this, do we not?), dressed up like a female Muslim, via simply donning a burka and tried to board a plane in Columbus, Ohio at Port Columbus International Airport. The man was acting nervous in a way that "was consistent to the behavior of a terrorist," according to police records and was denied the right to board.

Authorities claim the story has been kept on the down-low due to their need to investigate the situation fully, but many believe the story has been silenced in the lame stream media, because they do not want to offend Muslims or black American criminals, apparently, both groups to which this piece of shi# belonged. Authorities are writing this terrorist's actions off to "mental illness," because by all means, they do not want you to know the truth...

Initial news reports made no mention of the deceased's wearing a burqa and said he was turned away at the counter because he presented clearly incorrect identification that belonged to a female (rather than because he was acting like a potential hijacker). The Associated Press and others reported Abdul-Rasheed's demeanor was indeed that of a person suffering from some form of psychological disturbance:

[Abdul-Rasheed's] behavior included concealing weapons beneath his trousers and trying to buy an airline ticket using a woman's ID, according to the statement from a detective in the Columbus police counterterrorism unit.

Besides the two "lock-blade style" knives, Hashim Hanif Ibn Abdul-Rasheed had more knives, a gas mask, other masks, computers, cameras and cellphones in his illegally parked SUV, the statement said.

The local police union leader said a bomb squad also found containers of frozen urine in the vehicle, an unexplained twist not mentioned in the detective's court filing.

Abdul-Rasheed, of suburban Columbus, had a court-documented history of mental illness. After he tried to kill his mother in 1999, a court found him not guilty by reason of insanity and determined he was mentally ill and subject to involuntary hospitalization, Cuyahoga County court records show. He remained under court supervision for more than a decade.

Police responded frequently to disturbances at his apartment in the past year. His wife told police officers last summer that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was not taking his medicine.

Saying the deceased was killed "while trying to hijack an airplane" is somewhat premature given the suspect was unable even to purchase a ticket, and discerning the intent and motivations behind his actions is rather problematic now that he is dead. Either way, the incident clearly was not kept out of the news due to fear of causing offense to Muslims: ABC, Fox News, the Huffington Post, and other major news outlets reported the shooting and its details, but the story was simply eclipsed by a larger story about a deadly massacre in Europe on the same day.

Last updated:   19 January 2014

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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