Yet, a senior counter-terrorism official ridicules the notion that the men pose a real threat. "Any time we have evidence of anything like this, suspects are brought in, interrogated, and held if justified during investigations," he says. Abdelhazak Rabehi, a 30 year-old baggage handler whose job depended on the badge of which he was stripped, aired similar logic. "If I'd been a threat to the airport, I'd be a threat to society: they'd have put me in handcuffs instead of taking away my job."
Intelligence, police, and Interior Ministry officials asked to comment on the case and how such serious allegations could be made without the suspects having the chance to examine and respond to them deferred to Lebrot. Lebrot's office declined to comment, citing pending litigation by Rabehi and seven colleagues who challenged the revocations in court. Pending the court ruling expected next week, Rabehi and another plaintiff had their badges returned to them proving, Rabehi said, "the authorities acknowledge the information against us was wrong. How can you not doubt the other cases, too?"
His lawyer, Daniel Saadat, points to the publicity generated by a best-selling book depicting the airport as crawling with radical Muslim employees who meet in clandestine prayer rooms in its terminals. Such scare-mongering, Saadat says, may have pressured security officials to take demonstrative action against questionable, but well publicized threats. "The way this has been handled is inverse of how investigations normally go," the counter-terror official says. "It makes you wonder what the real deal is."