Brothers Kashif Irfan, 34, an anesthesiologist, and Atif Irfan, 29, a lawyer, both Alexandria residents, said they believed that their families and a friend were profiled at least in part because of their appearance. All but one of their group are native-born U.S. citizens, and the ninth is a legal permanent U.S. resident, they said; six are of Pakistani descent, two are of Turkish descent, and one is African American. All five adults and a teenager appeared traditionally Muslim, with the men wearing beards and the women in head scarves, they said. They were on their way to a religious retreat in Orlando.
The incident began about 1 p.m. Thursday when Atif Irfan, his wife, Sobia Ijaz, 21, and Kashif Irfan's wife, Inayet Sahin, 33, took their seats at the rear of the plane.
Officials said two teenage girls sitting nearby became alarmed when they heard Sahin remark that sitting near the engines would not be safe in the event of an accident or an explosion
. The girls told their parents, who told a flight attendant, AirTran officials said.