Three British Muslim siblings were left traumatised
after being escorted off a plane in London and
interrogated on the tarmac as armed police kept
watch, after fellow passengers accused them of
being members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the
Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
Sakina Dharas, 24, her sister Maryam, 19, and their
brother Ali, 21, were on board EasyJet flight
EZY3249 from London’s Stansted Airport to the
Italian city of Naples on August 17.
Sakina said on Tuesday that as the
plane was about to take off, a crew member
ordered the siblings off the aircraft and escorted
them down the staircase to the tarmac, where they
were met by armed police and an MI5 agent who
questioned them for one hour.
Earlier, two passengers – also travelling to Naples –
had told authorities that the siblings had been
looking at a mobile phone screen that showed
either Arabic text or the words “praise be to Allah”,
“A passenger on your flight has claimed that you
three are members of ISIS,” the MI5 agent said to
the siblings, according to Sakina, a clinical
“The minute that I saw police standing there, I was
extremely emotional,” she said.
“We had nothing at all [on our phones]. We don’t
even speak Arabic, we’re [of] Indian [origin].”
Sakina added that her brother had not looked at
his phone during their time at Stansted.
The only Arabic in her smartphone is within an app
featuring verses from the Quran, she said, which
“wasn’t open” throughout their time in the airport.
During their one-hour interrogation on the tarmac,
Sakina said she was asked to explain – page by
page – the details of various entry stamps on her
passport. She also showed the MI5 agent recent
WhatsApp messages. The siblings provided
answers relating to their personal lives and were
questioned on their home addresses, workplaces,
social media history and parents’ professions.
Sakina said the agent told them that he had
already performed checks on the family and was
simply verifying the information, before warning
her that he would be “doing more research on you,
and if anything comes back, I’ll be here waiting on
The siblings, who are from northwest London. were
then allowed back on the plane, which had been