Dutch Arrest 2 From U.S. On Terror Suspicions

The Dutch arrested on terror suspicions two men who flew to Amsterdam from Chicago. One man had suspicious items in his luggage, like a Pepto Bismol bottle with a cell phone taped to it.

Updated at 7:28 pm -- NPR's Carrie Johnson has a bit more information from law enforcement officials on the detention of the two men in Amsterdam from a United Airlines flight from Chicago:

"One of the men is from Yemen. Another man who joined him lives in the Detroit area.

Officials say the Yemeni man taped cell phones, watches and other items together in his suitcase. But that doesn't necessarily mean he had a dangerous intent.

Under Dutch law, the men can be detained while the investigation continues.

She also passes along the following statement from U.S. law enforcement:

"Suspicious items were located in checked luggage associated with two passengers on United Flight 908 from Chicago O'Hare to Amsterdam last night. 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."

Updated at 6:55 pm -- NPR's Dina Temple-Raston has more on the detention by Dutch officials of two men who flew from Chicago to Amsterdam Sunday:

Law enforcement officials confirm reports that two men were detained in Amsterdam. Officials tell NPR that the men do not appear to have ties to al-Qaeda or its affiliates but they are continuing to check those connections.

The men had a number of cellphones and other items in their bags that made officials suspicious. They also, allegedly, were ticketed for flights that they did not board, sending their bags on flights they were not on.

Their bags were removed from the planes before takeoff. Officials are cautioning against reading too much into the episode while they continue to investigate.

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Two men who flew from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Sunday evening were arrested on their arrival in Europe by Dutch authorities on terrorism suspicions, according to ABC News which broke the story.

ABC News reports the men Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi, of Detroit, and Hezem al Murisi, were on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Amsterdam.

A number of factors apparently raised the suspicions of authorities, according to the report.

An excerpt:

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.

The story continues to say that al Soofi joined up with al Murisi and the men boarded the flight for Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, the plane with al Soofi's luggage was returned to the gate where the baggage was removed and checked evidence for explosives but none was found. It's unclear from the ABC News story what happened to the baggage.

A U.S. official cited in the story says it appears the men's travels were part of a dry run for a potential attack.

Among the questions many people will no doubt be asking is, with so many suspicious elements to what the men were allegedly doing, how is it they were permitted to fly at all.

Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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