Did someone “Indian” help the Nigerian bomber in Amsterdam?

abdulmutallab.jpg

I left work later than I intended to tonight, and this concerned me because I’m in the middle of a rather difficult move from one apartment to another here in Chocolate City. Moving. Ugh, right? Anyway, while worrying that I now had even LESS time to sort and pack my crap, I overheard something important on NPR. “Maybe I was meant to run late”, I mused to myself…maybe, indeed.

What I ended up listening to had me riveted to the news [though it wasn't quite a driveway moment-- that would be challenging here in the city :) ]. NPR’s All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel was interviewing a Michigan-based attorney named Kurt Haskell; Haskell was aboard Northwest flight 253, along with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who attempted to blow it up on Christmas day.

While all of you are aware of this horrifying incident, a few of you may be unaware of some disturbing additional information pertaining to that attack. On NPR, Haskell described a scene he witnessed with his wife prior to boarding that ill-fated flight home to Detroit. He recalled seeing terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab escorted to the gate by a “well-dressed Indian man”, who tried to intervene on Abdulmutallab’s behalf and browbeat an airline employee in to overlooking the fact that the wanna-be martyr lacked a passport. WTF? Who gets to board anything without a passport, these days? And also, uh, INDIAN? I think he meant South Asian, because if Mr. Haskell is anything like me, he was born here and probably can’t tell the difference between a Pakistani and a Sri Lankan from a mere glance.

Let me perfectly clear: I did not come out of semi-hiding to write this post for the purpose of moaning that now “we” look “bad”, nor am I digging in my heels and protesting this “slur” against all good Yindians from Yindia. Aside: I think this incident illustrates a point I have long-made on this blog and it illustrates it very well; nuance and difference are lost on most people. While many of my first and a few of my second generation friends hotly protest being lumped in with “those” Pakistanis or “those” Indians (depending on whether they are the former or latter, mais oui), I roll my eyes for many reasons, including the fact that racists and other assholes just see curry. Brown. Apu. Outsourcing. Perhaps now, Jay Sean.

They sure as hell don’t assume that I’m a Christian or know where Kerala is– to most of the people with whom I interact, I’m Brown, most probably Hindu, and possibly on my way to an Arranged Marriage which I can then write about in poor chick-lit form, via a book with any combination of henna, mangoes, sari pallus and whatever else, flanked by an ersatz Indic font on the cover. Yay for predictable fiction! /aside

So why DID I write this post? Because.

a) Apparently everyone/everything really IS connected to someone Brown these days (!)

b) Haskell was so sure that the man ushering Abdulmutallab was Indian that he said as much a few times during the interview which I overheard, and NOT ONCE was he asked about this detail…not even via a tentative, “Well, you think the man was Indian, correct?”

c) Almost every article I’ve read since, including a post on ATC’s own blog omits this potent adjective. See for yourself:

As we reported earlier, Haskell (a Michigan lawyer) has been telling investigators and the news media about a conversation he says he heard before passengers boarded Northwest flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day.

According to Haskell, Abdulmutallab and an older, well-dressed man approached an airline employee. The older man said Abdulmutallab was Sudanese, had no passport, but needed to get on the flight. The airline employee directed them to a manager and the men went down a hallway. Haskell says he never saw the older man again, and didn’t see Abdulmutallab until the incident aboard the flight as it approached Detroit — when the Nigerian (the suspect is not Sudanese) allegedly tried to ignite some typeof explosive. [npr]

Interesting, right?

I haven’t found anything else which mentions the “Indian” mystery man who helped put an evil criminal on Flight 253, but whatever his ethnic origin, if he was aware of what he was participating in then I wish him a similarly painful, scorched-balls-sort of fate, and I fervently hope that he, too, fails at harming innocent people.

::

Because I am in the middle of moving during a holiday week, I hope you will take extra pains to be civil to each other in the comment thread below. I do not have internet access in my new home (yet) and even if I did, I do not have the time to wade through comment-drama. I want to thank you in advance for your sure-to-be thoughtful words; I hope I am not given a reason (or fifty) to regret posting this. :)

248 thoughts on “Did someone “Indian” help the Nigerian bomber in Amsterdam?

  1. While I agree with what you’re saying (to an extent) I would also add that Indians are often mistaken for natives by natives, in other countries/regions. Particularly latin american ones. Latin America is extremely diverse so this is a strange comment. There are large groups of people of Indian origin in the Caribbean and Guyana, so maybe that counts for the ‘mistaking’.

  2. Latin America is extremely diverse so this is a strange comment. There are large groups of people of Indian origin in the Caribbean and Guyana, so maybe that counts for the ‘mistaking’.

    Latin America is diverse but india is not? Indians get mistaken for natives everywhere from brazil to puerto Rico. I have witnessed this personally. I think there is an overall underestimation of how diverse India really is.

  3. ” Many Hare Krishnas denounce other relgions and ways of life. It’s one of the things that turned me off of their Sunday Feasts, even though the grub was delish.”

    That certainly hasn’t been my experience in the few times I’ve been there. It’s been devotion, music, food and the odd discourse. What they denounce are the old vices of mankind- greed, violence, hatred, jealousy etc. There is positively an absence of the concept of ‘false Gods’, which still exists in Christianity and Islam.

  4. Latin America is diverse but india is not? Indians get mistaken for natives everywhere from brazil to puerto Rico. I have witnessed this personally. I think there is an overall underestimation of how diverse India really is. I certainly agree that India is very diverse.I am questioning more the pride that certain Indians take in being mistaken for another nationality. My point is also that Latin American countries are ALSO very diverse, so an Indian would not look too out of place there. Also I find it interesting how you only mention the natives of South America, but not of South East Asia and African countries? Because there are very many Indians could be mistaken for people from those places.

  5. Latin America is diverse but india is not? Indians get mistaken for natives everywhere from brazil to puerto Rico. I have witnessed this personally. I think there is an overall underestimation of how diverse India really is. I certainly agree that India is very diverse.I am questioning more the pride that certain Indians take in being mistaken for another nationality. My point is also that Latin American countries are ALSO very diverse, so an Indian would not look too out of place there. Also I find it interesting how you only mention the natives of South America, but not of South East Asia and African countries? Because there are very many Indians could be mistaken for people from those places

    Im not saying that there’s pride in being mistaken for another race.. I’m saying that it can happen. You are correct in saying that Latin America is not exclusive in this respect which all the more supports my arguement. What I’m debating is that there is no “true diversity” in India while it’s “true” eveywhere else..

  6. AVATAR wrote:

    Many Hare Krishnas denounce other relgions and ways of life.

    Please keep in mind that many Hare Krishnas are former evangelical Christians who have brought over cultural baggage from their former faith. A few years ago, Manish wrote a post about ISKCON supporting intelligent design.

  7. Average Indian looks closer to an African than a Latino or European. But you’ll never come across an Indian who brags that he/she regularly gets mistaken for a Black.

  8. Rohit wrote:

    But you’ll never come across an Indian who brags that he/she regularly gets mistaken for a Black.

    Not necessarily. Vijay Prashad noticed that there are some connections between writers of the Dalit movement, like V. T. Rajshekar, and the Afrocentric movement, like Runoko Rashidi. He referred to it as a “submerged network of Afro-Dalit literature”.

  9. Average Indian looks closer to an African than a Latino or European. But you’ll never come across an Indian who brags that he/she regularly gets mistaken for a Black.

    True and telling. You can be sure that Anon and the rest of the “I have been mistaken for a hispanic/arab” crowd have been called “black” or the N-word far more often. But they are too ashamed, too dishonest and too cowardly to admit it. Unlike Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar etc who were seen as black or african when in America, by both white and black americans, and weren’t ashamed to mention it.

    Of course desis can sometimes be mistaken for arabs or hispanics since these people are extremely diverse in looks and many of them have african and south asian blood, just as many of them look european. Also mongoloid in the case of hispanics. What’s ridiculous however is how so many foolish desi braggards think that being mistaken for a dark-skinned hispanic or arab is the equivalent of not looking like a desi.

  10. Latin America is diverse but india is not? Indians get mistaken for natives everywhere from brazil to puerto Rico. I have witnessed this personally. I think there is an overall underestimation of how diverse India really is.

    The more you post the more you expose your ignorance and stupidity. Please explain how indians getting mistaken as belonging to a very diverse group that includes dark-skinned africans, south asians and native central americans proves indian diversity.

  11. I find it interesting how you only mention the natives of South America, but not of South East Asia and African countries? Because there are very many Indians could be mistaken for people from those places.

    Obviously this selective mentioning is an expression of a deeply servile inferiority complex vis a vis white europeans. Anon and his ilk must think that being mistaken for an arab or hispanic is very flattering to their tormented slavish egos, since unlike desis there is a large percentage of hispanics and arabs who do look white. What’s funny is how utterly illogical their reasoning is: if desis are mistaken for arabs and hispanics they are not being mistaken for the arabs or hispanics who look white, but for those who are dark-skinned like desis.

  12. True and telling. You can be sure that Anon and the rest of the “I have been mistaken for a hispanic/arab” crowd have been called “black” or the N-word far more often. But they are too ashamed, too dishonest and too cowardly to admit it. Unlike Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar etc who were seen as black or african when in America, by both white and black americans, and weren’t ashamed to mention it. Of course desis can sometimes be mistaken for arabs or hispanics since these people are extremely diverse in looks and many of them have african and south asian blood, just as many of them look european. Also mongoloid in the case of hispanics. What’s ridiculous however is how so many foolish desi braggards think that being mistaken for a dark-skinned hispanic or arab is the equivalent of not looking like a desi.

    Buddy, I think your fundamental problem is that you see in Indian people who and what you want to see. Furthermore, you most likely see in fellow desis only what non-desis give you permission to see. I dont think I have ever been called “black” or the n-word. I can also tell you that I know desis that would be mistaken as white, desis that would be mistaken as black if they put a baseball cap on, and those that look like tan mexicans crossing the border. Im sure youre crunching the numbers right now.. “Wait a min there arent that many indians that look white!” Oh no! Stop the presses! I think in your pathetic little world all desis should look the way you look, worship the way you worship, feel the way you feel – oh and not to mention like your mummies cooking. Thats the only “ignorant and stupid” point of view that Ive seen so far.

    The more you post the more you expose your ignorance and stupidity. Please explain how indians getting mistaken as belonging to a very diverse group that includes dark-skinned africans, south asians and native central americans proves indian diversity.

    If you need further proof of Indian diversity after the multiple academic genetic studies that I have shown you then you are either a troll, or one of the dumbest Indians I have ever had the misfortune of coming across.