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31 August 2010

Terror Suspects Held On Flight From Chicago

15709489.jpgTwo men on a flight from Chicago to Amsterdam have been arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack

US officials asked Dutch police to detain Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezam al Murisi at Schiphol airport after they became concerned about "mock bombs" in their luggage.

The incident has been described as a "dry run" for a possible terror strike and has drawn comparisons to the Christmas Day bomb plot last year.

Then, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab was charged with trying to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit using explosives concealed in his underwear.

Police are now assessing if the men involved in this incident were "testing the system" as part of a terrorist training exercise.

The pair, both from Detroit, were allowed to board United Airlines flight 908 from Chicago to the Netherlands despite security concerns.

These began in Birmingham, Alabama, where Soofi appears to have started his journey.

Airport security staff stopped him because of his "bulky clothing" and found he was carrying $7,000 (£4,500) in cash, ABC News said.

They opened his luggage, and found a mobile phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol medicine bottle, three mobiles taped together, and several watches taped together.

There have been reports that several knives were also found but the FBI insists the men were not carrying anything illegal.

A senior law enforcement official later described the items as "mock bombs".

Items found on flight to Yemen (pic: ABC News)

He told ABC: "This was almost certainly a dry run, a test."

But because no explosives were discovered, Soofi was cleared for the flight to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

There, he appears to have checked in his luggage on a plane to Yemen - which was due to stop at Washington's Dulles airport and then Dubai - but did not board the flight.

Instead, he joined Murisi on a jet to Amsterdam, it is claimed.

The flight carrying Soofi's luggage arrived in Washington and was about to depart for Dubai when officials found the suspect was not on board.

The luggage was removed from the plane and additional searches found no evidence of explosives.

Sky's Greg Milam said Soofi and Murisi were not on a no-fly list or any terror watch list.

But he said the incident will raise concerns among US security officials because Soofi was allowed to check in his luggage on a flight without actually getting on the plane.

A spokesman for the US Department for Homeland Security told Sky News: "Suspicious items were located in checked luggage associated with two passengers on United Flight 908 from Chicago O'Hare to Amsterdam.

"The items were not deemed to be dangerous in and of themselves, and as we share information with our international partners, Dutch authorities were notified of the suspicious items.

"This matter continues to be under investigation."


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