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FBI finds no terror threat from two airline passengers detained in Amsterdam

An FBI investigation of two men arrested Monday in Amsterdam after suspicious items turned up in one of the men's luggage is finding they were probably not on a test run for a future terror attack, U.S. officials were reported as saying Tuesday.

Dutch authorities continued to detain the pair at Schiphol International Airport, but a Dutch official said late Tuesday that investigators had found no evidence of wrongdoing and the men could be freed as early as today if the inquiry is completed.

The Associated Press said it was told by a U.S. law enforcement official that the United States does not expect to charge the men. AP said it was told by the official that the men did not know each other and were not traveling together.

The Washington Post said it was told by officials that the two became the focus of an international terrorism scare as a result of a series of odd events.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa urged restraint Tuesday. "These two passengers have not been charged with any crime in the United States and we caution you against jumping to any conclusions," she said.

The men were not on any U.S. terror watch lists, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNN on Tuesday.

The two men missed flights to Washington Dulles International Airport from Chicago due to a gate change and were then booked on United Airlines Flight 908 to Amsterdam.

Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi, a U.S. permanent resident, was traveling from Birmingham, Ala., to Chicago, then on to Dulles and from there to Yemen.

In Birmingham, he declared that he was carrying $7,000 in cash and underwent additional screening. In his checked luggage, security screeners found a cellphone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together and a number of watches taped together, as well as a knife and box cutter. None of the checked items violated U.S. security rules, so Transportation Security Administration officials allowed Soofi to fly.

Hezem Abdullah Thabi al-Murisi, a Yemeni citizen, also missed his flight in Chicago. He was booked to Amsterdam as well.

The two did not know each other before getting on the same flight, the official said. And Murisi may have been dragged into the investigation only because of his proximity to Soofi on the flight. The Washington Post said it was told Murisi was sitting next to Soofi; AP said that according to its sources, the men were seated near each other but not together.

Information from the Associated Press, the New York Times and Washington Post was used in this report.

FBI finds no terror threat from two airline passengers detained in Amsterdam 08/31/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 11:47pm]
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