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Pressure Cookers Seized From Luggage in Hilo, Detroit

Posted May 13, 2013, 12:51 PM HST Updated May 13, 2013, 03:32 PM HST
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A type of pressure cooker. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Federal authorities say pressure cookers were seized from two airline travelers last week, including one in luggage checked in at Hilo’s airport.

Two bombs that exploded during last month’s Boston Marathon had been fashioned out of pressure cookers.

The Hilo incident occurred on Wednesday, May 8, and involved a passenger holding a ticket from Hilo to Honolulu.

According to FBI spokesman Tom Simon, the passenger’s luggage contained what appeared to be a modified pressure cooker, which was discovered through standard Transportation Security Administration screening.

The passenger was detained for questioning but was not placed under arrest, Simon said. The pressure cooker and some of the contents of the luggage were seized by the FBI for analysis.

No explosives were found in the luggage or on the passenger, he said.

Simon declined to identify the passenger or the passenger’s gender or hometown.

“The FBI does not believe that this incident poses any imminent threat to civil aviation based on our limited investigation thus far,” he said in a statement issued Friday. “The investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed.”

On Saturday, a Saudi man was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport while traveling with a pressure cooker, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Court documents filed today said the man lied about why he was traveling with the pressure cooker.

According to the newspaper, the documents said Hussain Al Kwawahir told agents he was visiting his son who is a college student in Ohio. He initially told agents that he brought the pressure cooker because they aren’t sold in America, and later said that his nephew had bought one but it had broken after a single use.

The criminal complaint also alleged that Al Kwawahir was carrying an altered passport with a page missing.

Al Kwawahir had arrived at the airport from Saudi Arabia via Amsterdam.

He was set to be arraigned today in federal court.

In the Hilo incident, Simon today declined further comment, and did not respond to a question from Big Island Now as to whether pressure cookers are now among the items prohibited from being carried on board airlines, either in carry-on or checked baggage.

A fragment believed to be part of one of the Boston Marathon bombs. FBI photo.

A fragment believed to be part of one of the Boston Marathon bombs. FBI photo.

They are not on the latest list of prohibited items on the TSA’s website, but that list was posted on April 4, 11 days before the Boston Marathon explosions.

The pressure cooker found at the Hilo airport also was not mentioned in the weekly roundup on The TSA Blog which lists prohibited items found in luggage or on passenger’s persons.

According to the blog, items recovered last week included two one-pound cans of black powder found in a checked bag at Honolulu airport by a TSA agent responding to an alarm during the screening process.

 “This goes without saying, but black powder is a prohibited hazardous material,” the blog said.

The blog noted that in the week ending Friday, May 10, a record 50 firearms were discovered, including 45 that were loaded and 15 which had a chambered round.

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