"Now War is Declared, and Battle Come Down"


Taste in ominous, martial-sounding rock n' roll gets a British mobile phone salesman "hauled off a plane and questioned for three hours as a terror suspect." In the cab on his way to the Durham Tees Valley Airport in Britain, he played over the cab sound system both The Clash's "London Calling" with its warning that "war is declared, and battle come down" and Led Zeppelin's tundra-burner "The Immigrant Song" in which Robert Plant wails that "The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands, to fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!"

Harraj Mann, the man in question, says

he was 'frog-marched off the plane in front of everyone, had my bags searched and was asked 'every question you can think of'.

He added: "It turned out the taxi driver alerted someone when I arrived at the airport and had spoken about my music…..Durham Police said the action was taken 'as a result of information received' and the flight was stopped before take-off.

Old fashioned record geeks beware: Brian Eno's "Burning Airlines Give You So Much More" and "This Is Your Captain Calling" by Colin Blunstone (or even Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods!) are right out.

ADDENDUM: For nostalgia's sake, revisit this 2004 tale on Hit and Run of Syrian musicians creating a terror scare on a U.S. airline.

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  1. is this a joke?

    neither sets of lyrics are that clear to begin with.
    (whoops – gotta run)

  2. …and Led Zeppelin’s tundra-burner “The Immigrant Song”…

    Yeah, because there are a lot of vikings among the ranks of Al Qaeda.

  3. What you fail to appreciate is the comfort piece of mind afforded to the other passengers. I’m sure we all feel safer knowing that appropriate precautions will be taken whenever a terrorist announces his intentions via rock ‘n roll before boarding.

  4. A real terrorist would play Christina Aguilera.

  5. Anyone’s whose favorite Zepplin tune is “The Immigrant Song” probably dererves some form of punishment, but this is a little extreme.

  6. He would probably be undergoing torture at an Eastern European secret prison if he had also brought Combat Rock. I am sure that ample evidence can be found that a roadie for the Clash once used the same bathroom as Saddam Hussein and that the lyrics are really coded messages designed to activate sleeper cells.

  7. Anyone else amused that he was arrested for playing some of the most famous British music?

    Of course you can’t hear “Valhalla, I am coming” without thinking of kittens.


  8. Um, wasn’t “London Calling” played in some Jaguar promotion a few years back?

    Yes. Yes it was.


  9. He’s just lucky he wasn’t fond of the Fifth Dimension. They did “The Declaration” taken from the US Declaration of Independence.

    “Whenever any government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”

  10. however, deportation should be immediate for people who claim to “like the clash”, but don’t know the title to the final track on modern London Calling CD. hrumph.

  11. Who bad-mouths “The Immigrant Song!?”

  12. Mr. Mann should’ve stuck to assault or commercial burglary. Then he might’ve only gotten a warning.

  13. Ahh-ehhh-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah-AAH!


    Sorry. I have to do that everytime someone mentions “The Immigrant Song.” Because someone has to.

  14. Well, this teaches me never to take my iPod on an airplane. In addition to about 700 big band songs and the entire Beatles ouevre, I have Ladysmith Black Mombazo singing “Nearer My God to Thee.” That’s got to make someone think I’m a suicide bomber.

  15. Haven’t RTFA, but has anyone pointed out the fact that Middle Eastern (or non-Western) terrorists very well might not use Western Rock and Roll (the decay of moral civilization, as we all know) to preface an attack?

  16. Good point Smacky. Didn’t the Taliban prohibit all recorded music anyway?

  17. smacky, are you kidding? Nothing says, “We’re freakin’ cool” like rock and roll. Except maybe epic operatic scores.

  18. I recommend we all stick to the Talking Heads classic Don’t Worry About The Government.

  19. I wonder what Public Enemy’s Fight The Power would have gotten him.

  20. I wonder what Public Enemy’s Fight The Power would have gotten him.

    Or NWA’s “Fuck tha Police.”

  21. They never should have made this public. Now the terrorists know that cab drivers are listening to their music.

  22. I’m glad someone finally put the Viking Kittens back on-line. I was irked when they took it down.

  23. “I don’t think you trust in my self-righteous suicide” -“Chop Suey” System of a Down

    I know someone who honestly believes that song’s about them supporting suicide bombers.

    “A man drives a plane into the Chrysler Building” -“Is Chicago, is Not Chicago” Soul Coughing (1994)

    Dare you to play this loudly on the radio now!

  24. As much as I love that Eno album, couldn’t you have linked to a lyrics site that doesn’t try to install spyware?

  25. I can’t say, for certain, that I wouldn’t have freaked out about a series of Middle Eastern looking men going in and out of the bathroom of an airplane one after the other with McDonald’s bags like that. I’m pretty nervous on airplanes anyway, and what with this whole “jihad against the West” thing, sure, maybe I would have let my anxieties get the better of me. I’m not perfect, I can admit that.

    But I can state with a high degree of confidence that I would not have published a magazine piece about it, days later, after I’d had a chance to think twice. Get ahold of yourself, lady!

  26. viking kittens also available at:


    in case Led Zeppelin’s lawyers go after vikingkittens.com too

  27. Damn. If you’re going to profile, do it right.

    Islamo-fascists like Kashmir and Rock the Casbah.

  28. Watch out for suspicious poetry volumes, like Dreyden

    The trumpet’s loud clangour
    Invites us to arms
    With shrill notes of anger
    And mortal alarms.
    The double double double beat
    Of the thundering drum
    Cries, heark the Foes come;
    Charge, charge, ’tis too late to retreat.

    (Song for St. Cecilia’s Day.)

  29. When they kick at your front door, how you gonna come?

    Timeless question, that.

  30. I always play Pavement’s “Hit the Plane Down” as I’m taking off, even though I’m not even supposed to have my ipod on! Cuz I’m badass.

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