CAIR Has Been Here Before
It seems that CAIR has a penchant for defending those involved in suspicious activities aboard airliners. From the December 10, 2006 edition of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Another incident of interest occurred during Shahin's tenure at ITC. On June 13, 2003, the FBI arrested Muhammad Al-Qudhai'een, who was active at the mosque, and transported him to Virginia to testify as a material witness before a federal grand jury investigating 9/11.[Hat-tip to Punditarian of THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS]
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Al-Qudhai'een and Hamdan al Shalawi, a fellow Saudi, were removed from an America West flight after engaging in what the flight crew considered suspicious activity. The crew asserted that Al-Qudhai'een had twice attempted to open the plane's cockpit door. After 9/11, FBI agents in Phoenix considered whether the incident had been a "dry run" for the attacks. The 9/11 Commission noted that Al Shalawi had reportedly trained in Afghan terrorist camps in November 2000, learning how to conduct "Khobar Towers"-type bombing attacks.
The America West incident attracted national attention in 1999. In 2000, the two Saudis filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by the airline. "What happened to us was based on racial and religious discrimination," al Shalawi told the Arizona Republic. CAIR hired the Saudis' attorney for them, and urged a boycott of the airline. America West won the lawsuit. Al-Qudhai'een was later deported to Saudi Arabia.