New York City politicians gearing up for the next mayoral and City Council races are seizing on the issue of "John Doe" passengers being sued for reporting activities that may be terrorist-related.
"I want to stir the pot," said John Catsimatidis, a Republican mayoral candidate who took out a full-page in the New York Post tomorrow criticizing the lawsuit and calling on Washington lawmakers to pass a bill giving future John Does legal protection.
"I want to set the agenda and set what the priorities are, and one of the biggest priorities is keeping New York safe," said the billionaire chairman of the Red Apple Group, a private company with diversified holdings in oil refineries, supermarkets and real estate.
"We'll fire the torpedos and see where the pebbles go, but what I want to do is make New York politicians more accountable.
"Imams suing American Citizens," reads the headline over the full-page advertisement. "A lawsuit that threatens our security."
The ad recounts the Nov. 20 incident when the six imams were removed from U.S. Airways Flight 300 from Minneapolis to Phoenix after the flight crew and passengers reported suspicious activity. The imams sat in some seats not assigned to them, formed a pattern similar to the September 11, 2001, hijackings, asked for seat-belt extensions, and criticized the war in Iraq and President Bush.
Last month the imams, with legal representation by Omar Mohammedi, filed suit against the airline and unnamed passengers or John Does.
The lawsuit prompted action by House Republicans who used a procedural motion to tuck passenger protection language inside a rail-safety bill.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, also running for mayor, is the only New York Democrat to vote in favor of the measure, which passed March 27 on a 304-121 vote.
Mr. Mohammedi did not return a call for comment. The lawsuit asserts that the imams were discriminated against by US Airways, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission and "John Doe"
passengers to be named later. The lawsuit identifies possible John Does as individuals who "may have made false reports against plaintiffs solely with the intent to discriminate against them on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity and national origin."
The ad says that "as a result of this lawsuit, all of New York's security can be put at risk by holding the threat of legal action over New Yorkers."
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