Jews spread confusion as to the possible causes of EgyptAir's Pilot's death

November 16, 1999
EgyptAir 990 Pilot’s Prayer Indicates Criminal Act?
A Muslim pilot’s prayer as an EgyptAir plane was going down is

said to point toward a criminal act, and the investigation into last month’s

crash off Massachusetts may be turned over to the U.S. Federal Bureau

of Investigations.

Today’sWashington Post carries a front page, above the fold head-

line: “Pilot Prayed, Then Shut Off Jets Autopilot.” The article states

that “voice and data recorders from EgyptAir Flight 990 reveal that just

before one of the pilots, apparently alone in the cockpit, turned off the

autopilot, he uttered a very short Muslim prayer, government sources

said. National Transportation Safety Board officials found the evidence

so disturbing they are considering turning the probe over to the FBI.”

ABC’s Washington affiliate displayed the words of the Islamic prayer,

known as the shahadah, as the prayer uttered by the EgyptAir pilot.

Agence France-Presse quoted an airline official saying the prayer was the


Aviation experts have stated that there could be several reasons for

taking the plane off autopilot, and shutting down the engines, but the

utterance of the shahadah has caused the NTSB/FBI team to classify

the investigation as a criminal matter.

If this is all the evidence available to date, then this is a grievous act

of bigotry by top officials of the U.S. government. Had they reached

similar conclusions based upon a Jewish or Christian pilot’s prayer, U.S.

congressmen and media would be demanding that these officials be


A Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, or Christian may well utter a prayer when

confronted with a potentially deadly situation. A prayer so uttered is

not in itself evidence of a deliberate criminal act.

What may be criminal is to rule out other explanations for the crash.

At this stage all options should be kept open, but speculation on the

basis of a prayer uttered by the pilot is at the very least irresponsible.

The shahadah is one of the five “pillars of Islam.” It is a short prayer:

“There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” The

The War on Islam—139
four other pillars of Islam are prayer five times daily, fasting, alms-giv-

ing, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

To become a Muslim, one has only to recite the shahadah. Like the

pilgrimage to Mecca, it is required only once in a lifetime. However,

pious Muslims recite the shahadah throughout their lives, even as often

as several times each day—particularly in times of distress. Sufis, Islam’s

mystics, use the first part of the shahadah, “There is no god but God,”

repeatedly in their chanting. The shahadah is recited as one is dying,

and if one cannot do so someone else may recite the shahadah for them.

It is normal for the Muslim pilot of EgyptAir 990 to have uttered

the shahadah if confronted with a deadly situation beyond his control.

What is not normal is to consider the recital of this prayer as an indica-

tion of a criminal act.

Normally, the transfer of an investigation from one agency to an-

other would not be a matter of concern. But we question the transfer of

the investigation to the FBI, whose case against the blind Egyptian,

Muslim cleric Sheikh Rahman was not one which would inspire confi-


The New York Times reported that there was scant evidence that

Sheikh Rahman even knew of the plan to bomb the World Trade Cen-

ter, and other buildings in New York. The government’s primary witness

against Sheikh Rahman was an FBI informant, Mr. Emad Salem, who

confessed to lying under oath in a previous trial. Six months before the

World Trade Center bombing, the FBI terminated Mr. Salem after he

failed several lie detector tests. Following the bombing, Mr. Salem was

rehired for a fee of over $1 million.

The shahadah is also the last sentence of The Wisdom Fund’s 600

word introduction to Islam, known as “The Truth About Islam.” It is

available on the Internet at, and has been displayed in

international journals and in Washington Metro rail stations.

[Michael J. Sniffen reported (“EgyptAir Probe Focusing on Tape,” AP, November

18, 1999), “A team of government safety experts, hired translators, and Egyptian, FBI

and manufacturer representatives is trying to precisely transcribe EgyptAir 990’s cockpit

voice recorder tape, . . . The group will work all weekend and hopes to complete the

transcript next week, the NTSB said Wednesday.”]

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