She was detained for 14 hours earlier this month because officials at Tri-State Airport mistook her face wash and bottled water for bomb ingredients. Now, Rima Qayyum is blasting airport officials and U.S. Airways in her first public statement since the incident.

The 28-year-old substitute teacher from Barboursville said she believes she was singled out because she is Muslim, since she was the only passenger stopped that morning, although non-Muslim passengers also had liquids in their luggage.

The incident briefly closed the Ceredo airport and received intense coverage from local and national media. It occurred shortly after British authorities broke up an alleged plot to bring down several international airliners by smuggling liquid explosives onboard.

“I fully blame the Huntington airport security for targeting me alone,” Qayyum said in a statement released Friday. “A bottle of water and face wash was not a big issue. All they had to do was make me throw away these items, as were being done to other passengers, as it is being done at all the airports in the country today.”

Meanwhile, the director of a Muslim organization is calling on federal and state authorities to investigate whether Qayyum’s civil rights were violated.

Qayyum might file a lawsuit against the airport and airline, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan.

On Aug. 17, Transportation Security Administration officials at the airport confiscated Qayyum’s face wash and bottled water and tested them. According to West Virginia State Police Capt. J.C. Chambers, the items set off “sniffer” machines designed to detect explosives and caused a reaction by a bomb-sniffing dog.

Qayyum is baffled by the idea that her belongings could set off any alarms, Walid said.

Adding insult to injury, U.S. Airways refused to allow her to board a flight the next day, despite being completely cleared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Walid said.

“This is extremely gross, because Miss Qayyum was escorted to the airport on the second day by an FBI agent, but U.S. Airways denied her permission to board, even with a FBI agent next to her,” Walid said.


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