The media are reporting the crash of a small aircraft in East Hartford, Conn., by an alien in pilot training who died on impact. His co-pilot (and trainer) for the flight, now hospitalized with serious injuries, says the act was deliberate. The pilot, Feras Freitekh, was a Jordanian national of Palestinian descent who entered the United States on a visa permitting him to attend pilot school.
One of the reporting media outlets, the Daily Caller, points out that the crash was close to the site of a Pratt & Whitney factory that has been designated as a part of the homeland's critical infrastructure. The FBI is investigating.
By contrast, a New York Times article on the incident goes out of its way to cast doubt on terrorism as a motive, citing a cousin who still lives in Jordan as saying Freitekh was not a devoted practitioner of Islam. Of course, this leaves us to ponder why a man, who by all accounts was a piloting enthusiast achieving a childhood dream via his training, would simply decide to commit a spectacular suicide in a busy downtown area, taking his training officer from the flight school down with him.
I don't suggest that terrorism was in fact the motive; it's too soon to know based on the scanty facts available. I do, however, reject the notion that only a Muslim extremist would be capable of an act of terror. That on its face is absurd, and to do so simply because the dead pilot was an apparently secular Arab of Palestinian-Jordanian origins is to engage in revisionist history (something we Americans do all too often, and for the worst of reasons).
It's worth remembering that half of the Palestinian Territories are controlled by Fatah, a secular political arm of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which, along with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and a number of other such organizations, began its life many decades ago in the mid-20th century with a decidedly pan-Arabic secular socialist philosophy completely divorced from Islam. This is one reason that Fatah is in such constant conflict with Hamas, the self-avowedly Islamist organization that controls the other half of the Palestinian territories.
While they share the goal of a separate, internationally recognized Palestinian state, they have little else in common. In fact, members of Fatah, PFLP (and other similar organizations and regimes such as now-deceased Muamar Qadaffi's Libyan Arab Socialist Union) are, to Islamic fundamentalists, the worst kinds of unbelievers — apostates and heretics who have abandoned their faith. It is not hard to imagine these Arab socialists being executed out of hand by die-hards within ISIS, Boko Haram, or other violent jihadist groups.
What the secularists do share in common with jihadists, though, is a proclivity to achieve their goals (whether politico-religious or politico-secular) through the use of terror. Some of the most feared and hated terrorist organizations of the 1960s through 1980s, were groups such as the PLO and PFLP, which went beyond "pink" socialism and were overtly Marxist-Leninist, going so far as to train and cooperate with other international Marxist terror groups such as the Japanese Red Army, the Italian Red Brigades, and the German Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang. There are even significant indicators that they cooperated with the Irish Republican Army in its struggle to "liberate" Northern Ireland from British rule.
All these secular socialist Arab groups engaged in pan-Marxist cooperative terror on a global scale and committed terrible crimes in pursuit of their objectives (such as the slaughter of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the murder of disabled U.S. Navy veteran Leon Klinghoffer while on a vacation cruise hijacked by terrorist operatives).
For these reasons, it is ironic that the New York Times — that bastion of liberal progressive thinking that is so quick to condemn others for immediately linking violence by Muslims with terror — is minimizing the possibility of terror just because the Arabic perpetrator was not a devout practitioner of Islam. Where is their institutional memory?
One other point should be made in reference to this story: While the FBI is undertaking its inquiry into the incident and the pilot's motivation, it might also behoove the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) to take a careful look at how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other DHS agencies handle their respective responsibilities in administering the programs that oversee pilot training academies, including vetting and granting of student status to aliens who wish to participate in such programs. (Curiously, I didn't find any reference to that program on the TSA.gov website, but information about it can be found on the Airline Owners and Pilots Association website.)
This is important because in February 2011, a furor was caused by the arrest of an illegal alien in the Boston area by federal immigration agents. The alien owned and managed TJ Aviation flight school and permitted other illegal aliens to attend, resulting in the arrest of the owner and more than 30 alien enrollees. At the time, TSA promised to undertake reforms to its program and processes to ensure that such things did not happen again.
However, OIG recently undertook an audit of TSA's credentialing program for employees who have access to secure areas of air- and seaports and found it sadly lacking. Among the troubling findings was that TSA officials didn't grasp the significance of the DHS biometric/biographic database called IDENT, and as a consequence, were delinquent in weeding out aliens and criminals who had no business being anywhere near the ports, much less with free access to the sterile areas.
In light of these two disturbing matters, one cannot help but wonder what auditors would find in a review of the TSA alien pilot vetting program. Have they really mended their ways, or is the program as slipshod as the credentialing program?
This crash should be a wake-up call, because it is only by the grace of God that no one besides the pilot was killed.