Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi, of Detroit, MI, and Hezem al Murisi were taken off a Chicago-to-Amsterdam United Airlines flight in the Netherlands and have been charged by Dutch police with “preparation of a terrorist attack.”
The men are suspected of traveling with “mock bombs” in their luggage and were arrested Monday morning at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
The two men — possibly from Yemen — were allowed to board the flight at O’Hare airport last night despite security concerns surrounding al Soofi.
Airport security screeners in Birmingham, Alabama first stopped al Soofi and referred him to additional screening because he was wearing “bulky clothing” — a risk factor for terror suspects. He was also found to be carrying $7,000 in cash. A security check of his luggage found a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together, several watches taped together, a box cutter and three large knives.
There were no indications of explosives and al Soofi and his luggage were cleared for the flight from Birmingham to Chicago O’Hare.
In Chicago, al Soofi checked his luggage on a flight to Washington’s Dulles airport for connections on flights to Dubai and then Yemen, even though he did not board the flight himself.
Under close scrutiny, officials noticed al Soofi was joined by the second man, Al Murisi, and boarded the United flight from Chicago to Amsterdam.
When U.S. Customs and Border officials learned al Soofi was not on the flight from Dulles to Dubai, the plane with the luggage was ordered to return to the gate so his luggage could be removed and checked. Additional screening found no evidence of explosives.
Both men were detained by Dutch authorities at the request of United States officials when the United flight landed in Amsterdam.
No rules prohibit carrying knives or taped cell phones and watches in checked baggage.