Dutch authorities have charged two men with “preparation of a terrorist attack” according to U.S. law officials. The two men were in possession of what appeared to be “mock bombs” in their luggage. The men have been identified as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser Al Soofi and Hezam Al Murisi. Officials have not determined their country of origin, but Al Soofi has a Michigan address. Dutch authorities apprehended the men when the United airlines flight landed in Amsterdam.
Ernst Koelmam, Dutch public prosecutor, has confirmed the arrest and charges of the suspects in the Netherlands. In a statement, the prosecutor said “the investigation is ongoing” and the arrests were made “at the request of American authorities.”
Al Soofi arrived at the airport in Chicago initially on a flight with several connecting flights to Amsterdam. While in Chicago, officials said Al Soofi checked his luggage on a flight to Washington’s Dulles airport with connections to Dubai and then Yemen. However, he changed his plans and boarded a direct flight to Amsterdam. When officials realized Al Soofi, did not board the flight to Yemen, the plane was ordered to return to the gate and his luggage removed.
A check of his luggage revealed “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.” Although there was no indication of explosives, it is not illegal to carry knives, taped cell phones and watches in checked baggage, Al Soofi’s sudden itinerary change sparked concern. After being detained, Al Soofi informed authorities he was carrying a large amount of cash. He was carrying $7,000 in cash.
Al Murisi also altered his travel arrangements in Chicago to take a direct flight to Amsterdam. This raised suspicion with U.S. officials. There were Federal Air marshals on the flight from Chicago to Amsterdam.
The “mock bombs” in their luggage were considered a dry run or test according to senior law officials. Homeland Security spokesperson Amy Kudwa said “The items were not deemed to be dangerous in and of themselves,” but there was enough suspicion to inform Dutch authorities to detain the suspects.