Despite security concerns surrounding one passenger with an out-bound ticket from O'Hare airport last night, security officials now say two men--Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezem al Murisi--were allowed to board the trans-Atlantic flight in Chicago. ABC News is reporting that the men were picked up in Amsterdam this morning as they were in "preparation of a terrorist attack."
Airport security screeners in Birmingham, Alabama first stopped al Soofi and referred him to additional screening because of what officials said was his “bulky clothing.”
In addition, officials said, al Soofi was found to be carrying $7,000 in cash and a 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. Officials said there was no indication of explosives and he and his luggage were cleared for the flight from Birmingham to Chicago O’Hare.Once in Chicago, officials say they learned 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.
Instead, officials say, al Soofi was joined by the second man, Al Murisi, and boarded the United flight from Chicago to Amsterdam.
When Customs & Border Protection figured out al Soofi wasn't on the flight from Dulles to Dubai, the flight was ordered to return and his luggage was searched, though officials report they found no evidence of explosives. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, the pair of men were reportedly detained by Dutch authorities.
Though it's unclear at this point whether either men has committed an actual crime, you can see how their actions would raise some serious suspicions and warrant further investigation.
This also raises more questions about airline security as it seems that no bag should be able to board a flight without its corresponding owner. It doesn't seem likely that this was an honest mistake. More plausibly, this may have been one way for America's enemies to once again test air travel's security structure to find potential weaknesses to exploit in the future.
Stay tuned... more information will likely become available as Homeland Security gets involved in the investigation.