Suspicious trips to bathroom lead to plane getting military escort

NEW YORK -- Two fighter jets escorted a Los Angeles-to-New York American Airlines flight after three passengers' repeated trips to the bathroom aroused suspicion Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said.

The passengers were later cleared.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the plane's captain never declared a security threat and never asked for law enforcement help. "In our eyes, it's a big nothing," he said.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled two F-16 jets to shadow Flight 34 until it landed safely at New York's Kennedy Airport at 4:10 p.m. Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement.

FBI spokesman J. Peter Donald said in a statement that the jets were sent to escort the flight "out of an abundance of caution." The FBI interviewed passengers and found "no nexus to terrorism," he said.

The passengers made repeated trips to the bathroom and some thought they were using hand signals to communicate, the law enforcement official said. Two of the men were Israeli and one was Russian, the official said, adding that they were cleared and sent on their way.

Initial reports said the men had locked themselves in the bathroom but the official said that turned out to be erroneous.

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