Dutch police were on Tuesday questioning two Arabs detained at Amsterdam’s airport after a warning by U.S. officials that the men might have been rehearsing a terrorist attack.
Dutch counter—terrorism officials were taking the incident very seriously although the men had posed no risk to the flight from Chicago they had been travelling on, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Coordinator for Counter—Terrorism (NCTB) said.
The men — presumed to be Yemeni nationals — were suspected of carrying a mock bomb in their checked baggage on board earlier domestic flights in the U.S.
Officials were investigating whether the men may have been checking out the flights for possible terrorist attacks, Dutch media reported.
The NCTB spokeswoman said the Dutch investigators were awaiting more information from their U.S. counterparts. The U.S. Home Security Department had raised the original alert.
The men had arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport on a flight from Chicago on Monday night. The Dutch public prosecutor confirmed the men, identified as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al—Soofi and Hezem al—Murisi, were arrested “at the request of American authorities.” According to U.S. media reports, the men had been carrying fake bombs in their checked baggage on previous domestic flights in the U.S. The ABC network quoted a senior U.S. law enforcement official as saying: “This was almost certainly a dry run, a test.” Al—Soofi, resident in Detroit, Michigan, had attracted attention when he tried to embark on a flight from Birmingham Airport in the U.S. state of Alabama to Chicago because he had been wearing voluminous clothes despite high temperatures.
Officials found 7,000 dollars in cash, several mobile phones and watches taped together, as well as a carpet cutter and three other large knives in his luggage. The man had ultimately been allowed to continue his trip as no explosives were found in his baggage.
On landing in Chicago, al—Soofi had checked in his baggage for a flight via Washington to Dubai and Yemen. Instead of embarking on this flight, however, he had taken a plane to Amsterdam together with al—Murisi. The unaccompanied luggage had been taken off the other plane by officials.