The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that nine American Muslims, most of them headed to Florida for a vacation with family members, were removed from an AirTran Airways flight Thursday afternoon at Reagan National Airport.
The group said the incident began when another passenger complained about something that was said while boarding.
"We were talking about seat placement," one of the detained passengers said. "We were in the back ... started talking about safest place to sit. Maybe someone gleaned into that that we were planning to do something to the plane."
AirTran acknowledged that nine people were detained for questioning after boarding Flight 175 headed to Orlando International Airport.
AirTran released the following statement:
"At departure time, the captain informed the airline that there were two federal air marshals on board who contacted local Washington law enforcement officials for a security related issue on board the aircraft involving verbal comments made by a passenger and overheard by other passengers. The airline then advised the Transportation Security Administration."
Upon arriving at the gate and interrogating several passengers, the TSA determined that the 104 passengers on board must deplane and all passengers, crew and bags should be re-screened.
After the re-screening of the passengers, crew, bags and the aircraft, 95 passengers were allowed to re-board the aircraft and nine were detained for interrogation by the local law enforcement officials and the TSA.
Flight 175 departed nearly two hours late and arrived safely at its destination. AirTran Airways complied with all TSA, law enforcement and Homeland Security directives and had no discretion in the matter."
CAIR said the passengers who were detained were refused re-booking by the airline despite being cleared by federal authorities. (MORE)