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Plane pair 'face terror charge'

Two men on a flight from Chicago to Amsterdam were reportedly facing a terror charge after US officials found a mobile phone taped to a medicine bottle, a knife and a box cutter in checked luggage.

A US law enforcement official identified the men on the United Airlines flight as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezam al Murisi.

Al Soofi had a Michigan address, the official said. A neighbour of al Soofi told ABC News, which first reported the incident on Monday night, that he was from Yemen.

FBI agents visited the Detroit neighbourhood where several addresses were found for variations of al Soofi's name, according to neighbours, who would not give their names.

ABC News said al Soofi and al Murisi were charged in the Netherlands with "preparation of a terrorist attack" but US officials would not confirm that.

Another law enforcement official said that the men had not been charged with anything in the US.

The law enforcement official said Al Soofi was questioned as he went through security in Alabama on his way to Chicago. He told the Transportation Security Administration authorities he was carrying a lot of cash. Screeners found 7,000 dollars (£4,500) on him, but he was not breaking any law by carrying that much money. Officials also found several mobile phones and watches taped together in his checked baggage.

Al Soofi was supposed to fly from Chicago to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, and then on to Amsterdam, the official said. But when he got to Chicago, he changed his travel plans to take a direct flight from Chicago to Amsterdam.

Al Murisi also changed his travel plans in Chicago to take a direct flight to Amsterdam, raising suspicion among US officials. US air marshals were on the flight from Chicago to Amsterdam, a law enforcement official said.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said once officials found suspicious items in luggage associated with two passengers on Sunday night's flight, they notified the Dutch authorities. "The items were not deemed to be dangerous in and of themselves," she said. She would not identify the passengers.


From Belfast Telegraph