In a developing story, a Saudi Arabian man arrived at Detroit Metropolitan Airport Saturday with a page missing out of his passport and a pressure cooker in his baggage.
According to The Detroit News, Hussain Al Khawahir appeared in federal court with an Arabic translator Monday after being charged with using an altered passport and lying to authorities about the pressure cooker.
Al Khawahir, 33, traveled from Saudi Arabia to Detroit via Amsterdam on a business/tourism visa Saturday and was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents who questioned him about the items.
Al Khawahir denied knowledge of the missing passport page, but told law enforcement he purchased the pressure cooker for his nephew at the University of Toledo because pressure cookers aren’t sold in the U.S. He then changed his story to say that the nephew did buy a pressure cooker here in America, but that it was “cheap and broken,” the article said.
“It was unclear Monday whether his arrest is terrorism related or a misunderstanding,” The Detroit News reported. “But the prosecutor handling the case is Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel, who prosecuted the terror case against underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.”
Michigan’s executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations Dawud Walid “urged caution.”
According to the paper, Walid said:
I hope that our government is not criminalizing people if they travel and have cooking items just because they are Muslim or come from the Muslim world. I don’t think someone flying with an empty pressure cooker elevates to a level of terrorism unless the government has some other sound information.
The bond hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday.
More from The Detroit News.