UC Berkeley student kicked off Southwest flight after speaking Arabic

Lisa Amin Gulezian Image
ByLisa Amin Gulezian KGO logo
Monday, April 18, 2016
UC Berkeley kicked off Southwest flight after speaking Arabic
A UC Berkeley student was kicked off a Southwest flight saying, "they thought I was a terrorist" because of what a passenger told security.

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Imagine spending your life promoting diplomacy and even meeting the United Nation's secretary general, but then suddenly being accused of terrorism. That's what happened to a UC Berkeley student last week.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi boarded a Southwest flight and was on the phone with his uncle in Baghdad when he said the common Arabic expression, 'in shallah' or God willing.

That's when he noticed another passenger eyeing him and a minute later, he was yanked off the plane.

She allegedly told security Makhzoomi was using jihadist language.

"They degraded me as a human and they thought I was a terrorist," Makhzoomi said.

The normally gregarious student was scared, questioned, searched, and intimidated for 40 minutes by the FBI and airport security.

Southwest airlines released a statement saying: The company wouldn't remove a passenger without a collaborative decision rooted in established procedure."

Makhzoomi said he wants the airline to apologize and vows to never fly Southwest again.