Annie Jacobsen is a deluded, publicity-hungry fantabulist

I saw the poor frightened writer and her husband on CNN last night, and was struck by her refusing to give in. She’s convinced those swarthy Syrian musicians were on board to hold a “dry run,” and there’s no giving in. And why should she give in? After all, the Syrian terrorists went to the bathroom a lot and gave her a funny look.

As earlier, World O’Crap has a delightful take on the CNN appearance.

“If it was a dry run, what did they learn?” [CNN’s Aaron] Brown asked. Well, says Annie, they learned that they wouldn’t get arrested, since they apparently weren’t arrested, just interrogated and let go. (So, it’s not necessarily illegal to glare at women while being Arab — good to know.) They also learned “how far they could go” (to the restroom with a McDonalds sack), and “how flight attendants work” (apparently they pass out the drinks, then collect the cups). So, all in all, a very successful operation, and well worth the years spent learning to play those musical instruments. (Actually, real terrorists could have learned some interesting tips on how the airlines and the federal authorities handle various occurrences — not from the musicians, but from Annie’s articles, which include helpful info from the FAM public affairs guy.)

Of course, no one has asked the most glaring question of all: If poor Annie was shaking with fear, on the verge of tears, and everyone on the flight was witness to the horrors, why has not a single other passenger of the flight (aside from her husband) spoken up? Why the deafening silence?

Kevin Drum also has a good post on frightened Annie today. It blows a big hole in her story; turns out the Syrians were searched by the TSA.

After seeing her on the news, I’m willing to bet the farm Annie’s going to be back in the news soon. She now has her name everywhere and has brilliantly set the stage for a book launch. Just wait and see.

UPDATE: Be sure and see my follow-up post. As suspected, she’s nuts.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

Like Michelle Malkin or not, I agree with her conclusion: Better a false alarm than a flaming plane.

From Washington Times: there are reports on pilots and flight crews who say they have witnessed dry runs, including a pilot who said that “on one of his recent flights, an air marshal forced his way into the lavatory at the front of his plane after a man of Middle Eastern descent locked himself in for a long period. The marshal found the mirror had been removed and the man was attempting to break through the wall. The cockpit was on the other side….There is a great degree of concern in the airline industry that not only are these dry runs for a terrorist attack, but that there is absolutely no defense capabilities on a vast majority of airlines,” the pilot said.

I don’t know enough about Annie Jacobsen to conclude anything about her character.

July 22, 2004 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

I don’t think her story is worth an entire book; but I’m sure we’ll be seeing an hour-long Fox docudrama.

July 23, 2004 @ 3:15 am | Comment

Hysteria over nothing is unhealthy. If we stop every flight with dark-skinned passengers looking “suspicious,” al Qaeda will truly have won the war on terrorism, having turned us into a frightened, deluded, paranoid, hysterical nation of sheep.

As for the Washington Times — well, I put them in the same category as Fox News, except they’re just a bit more dangerous.

July 23, 2004 @ 8:51 am | Comment

Vaara, I don’t think the book will be about the flight. My guess is she already has a book written, and this was a way to get her name out. The book will follow in a few months.

July 23, 2004 @ 10:24 am | Comment

If I saw a woman shaking with fear and tearing up on a plane far into the flight, that’s the woman I would have interrogated, to follow her logic.


July 24, 2004 @ 3:13 pm | Comment

I’m sick of all the politically correct bullsh*t. Forget about screening old ladies and little children. Take every young arab muslim male aside and put him in a round room for at least an hour before he boards any plane in or bound for the US. If some camel-jockeys were acting like that on a plane I was riding on, I’d stand up and tell them to sit their punk asses down or it would be fist-a-cuffs. “Habeeb, sit your ass down or your gonna catch a good old-fashioned American ass whoopin” It’s spineless relativists that whine for tolerance and don’t have the balls to call a spade a spade that are the problem. Another 9/11 will happen because of dumb*sses like this, and there are too many of them in our country right now. Line’em up and shoot’em…

July 28, 2004 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

Why do people assume this is hysteria over nothing? It’s this nonchalant attitude that made 9/11 seem to have happened out of the blue.

Terrorists have said over and over again that they are preparing for something in the US again. Other people haven’t come forward on from that flight probably because they are afraid of being riduculed too.

Just because their story checked out doesn’t mean they aren’t terrorists. If I were them, I would have a legitimate Plan B too.

Other news sources have revealed that 13 out of the 14 Syrians on that flight had expired visas. I want to know how they managed to get into the country in the first place.

You might also find it interesting to note that the morning of Annie’s flight Homeland Security issued a waring to airports in Detroit and Los Angeles to keep a look out for a group of 6 Middle Eastern Men. She flew out of Detroit when this happened.

In addition, air marshalls are not put on every domestic flight. The fact that there was more than one on her flight is unusual, and seems to indicate that there was a credible threat.

July 30, 2004 @ 10:19 am | Comment

She was hysterical, that’s why. If you read the news reports (as opposed to the blogs) you’ll see the flight attendants were far more concerned about her than they were about the “terrorists.” It’s okay to ask questions and be cautious and concerned. Annie Jacobsen went much further, creating an idiotic fantasy about a “dry run” and threatening to alarm her fellow passengers over a monstrous threat that, amazingly, only she and her husband observed. The result has been yet more hysteria over swarthy men and renewed racism. If you doubt this, head over to the old threads on LGF and see the commenters exclaim how every Moslem must be considered a terrorist until proven otherwise.

July 30, 2004 @ 10:34 am | Comment

Richard, your comments are appreciated, however you did not address the major points in my comment. I don’t doubt that racism is an unfortunate consequence of the situation.

But racism aside, what about our safety? I think Annie Jacobsen’s story paints a bigger picture of how lacking our current security measures are. How do 13 people get on plane who have expired visas? Especially when they from a country that is known to harbor terrorists?

It’s sad that racists will use this situation to their advantage. But I hope you remember that this isn’t all about racism.

And calling her story an “idoitic fantasy” is unfair especially since you weren’t on that plane. By the way, being foolhardy is just as unhealthy as hysteria

July 30, 2004 @ 12:24 pm | Comment

I’ve read enough about it to conclude it was an idiotic fantasy. No one else on the flight saw anything out of order, or if they did none chose to come forward.

Expired visas is a constant problem. As I said in one post, my own visa expired onc and I didn’t even realize it (not in the US). Big deal; I went to the immigration office and had it renewed. Yes, it’s a problem that in the post-911 world shouldn’t ever be allowed to happen. But that’s another issue; it in no way validates that this was a terrorit dry run. Lots of people are here with expired visas. That hardly makes them terrorists.

I’m not endorsing being foolhardy. As I said in my previous comment, we need to be cautious and ask questions. But the foolhardiness was exercised by Ms. Jacobsen, not anyone else.

July 30, 2004 @ 1:14 pm | Comment


As it is clear you need to learn a little more about the VISA process and how it works.

Please visit:

and scroll down to the paragraphs about VISAs and what the expiration dates mean. Also, read the rest of the urban legends peice that answers to all of fame-mongerer Annie Jacobsen’s hysterical claims (and embellishments) and you may change your mind, if indeed you have one.

July 30, 2004 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

IP, thanks for that great link! It certainly takes the thunder out of the expired visas argument — and every other point the fear mongers are trying to make.

July 30, 2004 @ 5:19 pm | Comment


You are not the only one to point out that Annie Jacobsen and her husband were the only ones who were concerned on this flight. I am not sure how you get this information. At least two others have come forward and written to Women’s Wall Street to confirm her story. Also, the crew of the plane certainly saw a problem and the FBI, and other alphabet agencies were concerned enough to be there in the end. Why would you say that she is a lone wolf in this story?

August 1, 2004 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

I just read yesterday that one other passenger stepped forward to corroborate Annie’s story — but she was in first class and couldn’t have possibly seen what Annie saw. What are your links to what these other passengers and the crew said. The flight attendants were far more worried about Annie than they were the terrorists. They guys were interviewed after the flight and let go — they’re musicians! The crew said Annie “over reacted” — enough said!! ๐Ÿ™‚

A fascinating exercise in panic and the delusions it can bring on.

August 1, 2004 @ 5:37 pm | Comment

The visas were not expired when they entered the US. It’s okay for an alien to come into the US on a valid visa that’s going to expire while he’s here, as long as immigration approves his stay on his I-94 immigration form. The date on the I-94 is what controls whether he’s here legally or not. An expired visa just means that when the alien leaves, he can’t come back in until he gets a new visa.

August 1, 2004 @ 5:57 pm | Comment

jlr, isn’t it amazing how these people read such terrible implications into the most ordinary of things? I chalk it up to the general state of fear and alarm actively encouraged ever since 9/11 by the bush administration. Just today, the securiyt alert went up to orange in DC and NYC. When people are hysterical, they’re malleable and easy to control. Panicky Annie has done bush a great service, as have all those so willing to buy her nutty story wholesale.

August 1, 2004 @ 6:28 pm | Comment

Eric, I see you never came back with the links verifying your claims. That’s okay. If you are lurking, be sure to go here for a good post-mortem of this entire ridiculous episode.

August 2, 2004 @ 9:34 am | Comment

After the revelation of the liquid bomb plot in Britain, the story Annie relates sure as hell sounds like a dry run for an operation for that type of bombing. Crime investigations operate in mysterious ways, it’s hard to say what the FBI had in mind when they released the men.

August 16, 2006 @ 10:10 am | Comment

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