Please Tell Me This is Just Badly Written


I can’t make heads or tails of this story about today’s foiled 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.

Have I understood this correctly? They found a box cutter, a knife collection and “mock bombs” in his luggage, and then let him fly through to to Amsterdam? Maybe ABC was just so eager to get the scoop here that they left some key part of this story out? The part that would make me think the TSA does in fact care whether planes are blown out of the sky? I think this is just badly written, or “developing,” as they say, but if it really happened this way, consider me dissatisfied with the TSA’s performance–not that I was a huge fan to begin with.

Sorry about your Chardonnay, Denise.

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    Apparently, the arrested them in Amsterdam, if I read this correctly, at the request of American authorities. This from New York Daily News:

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  2. Profile Photo Member

    Take it from a native Alabamian–there is not one single thing about the Birmingham airport (or any government agency in Birmingham, for that matter) that inclines one to use the word “competent.”

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  3. Profile Photo Member

    Sounds like a case of the TSA following the letter as opposed to the spirit of their innumerable regulations. Not reassuring in the least.

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  4. Profile Photo Contributor
    Jason Hart: Sounds like a case of the TSA following the letter as opposed to the spirit of their innumerable regulations. Not reassuring in the least. ยท Aug 30 at 4:57pm

    Strict constructionism I can’t believe in.

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  5. Profile Photo Member

    I know the authorities are skittish about being accused of “profiling” but this is getting ridiculous.

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  6. Profile Photo Inactive

    I had the same reaction. I believe, after a close reading, that the luggage had been checked through to a different location on another flight, and had been seized from that flight. Why they didn’t just arrest them in Chicago I cannot tell. Perhaps they had not discovered the contents of the luggage by then.

    It sounds like a “test run” to see if the luggage would make it through undetected, or at least that’s my speculation. In their future plans I imagine that the bottle of Pepto would have been filled with something more dangerous.

    Edit: I see from the link that Eugene provided that a “dry run” was what the Dutch prosecutor thought as well.

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  7. Profile Photo Member

    Show me a law that says you can’t tape a cell phone to a Pepto-Bismo bottle.


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  8. Profile Photo Member

    So the guy only got stopped because he had “bulky clothing”. They learned something.

    Under El Al screening, they would have connected “al Soofi”, “Dearborn” and “Amsterdam” (preferred Euro gateway of terrorists) and pulled him aside.

    No, we have to rely on “bulky clothing”.

    We should thank our lucky stars that these guys are such stupid, incompetent mopes.

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  9. Profile Photo Member

    TSA — Thousands Standing Around — is as useless as oar-locks on an airplane. They are the proof that bin Laden won. An El Al/Moussad-style response is what would have been done if the intent were to protect the traveling public. The TSA is a PC bureaucrat’s CYA response to keeping their job.

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  10. Profile Photo Inactive

    Here’s an angle that really bothers me: If American authorities suspected this was a dry run, why were they content to let them sail into Dutch custody? Why didn’t the U.S. authorities want to pick these guys up at some point and have the chance to interrogate them here? Do we not have the law enforcement tools, or is this a lack of will?

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  11. Profile Photo Inactive

    Great, life imitates “Airplane”…I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.

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  12. Profile Photo Contributor

    So the box cutter and mock-bombs went through, but the Far Niente didn’t. Lovely. See Hell no, my chardonnay won’t go!

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  13. Profile Photo Inactive

    Certainly looks like a test run, and sounds bad on the face of it. But the story is surely incomplete. The author would have no way of knowing what was said over secure channels between agents and international security forces after the plan was discovered.

    I have to assume they confiscated the box cutters, just as they confiscated my cologne and hair scissors the last time I passed through a checkpoint.

    Here’s a possibility: By allowing these guys to go through, the whole machinery of domestic and international surveillance can be brought to bear. Every move they make and every word they utter can be recorded. Their friends and contacts can now be monitored. The Keystone Kops performance then becomes an intelligence coup, and they can be arrested at any time.

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  14. Profile Photo Member

    I am curious to know how long these guys have been in the US. Since 9/11, we have continued to welcome young men from Muslim countries as though they were Swedes.

    My wife cannot get a visa for her female cousin, a doctor in Russia, just to visit for a few advanced medical seminars.

    But guys from all over the Islamic world seem to be able to waltz through the visa process with ease, take low-skilled jobs and blend right in.

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  15. Profile Photo Member

    Who wants to see if they can board a plane with a pop gun?

    • #15

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