Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weapons on planes: Two cases, same day, time, destination and airline, Robert Anglen, The Arizona Republic.

Weapons on planes: Two cases, same day, time, destination and airline.

At the same time and on the same day, passengers attempted to smuggle weapons aboard two different U.S. Airways flights bound for Phoenix this month.

On the morning of June 4th, the FBI says an airline employee in Philadelphia helped his friend bypass security and onto a plane with an unloaded handgun in his bag. At about the same time, a man with ties to a controversial Islamic school was arrested for allegedly trying to secret a 7-inch butcher knife onto a Tampa flight.

Federal authorities describe each of the incidents as isolated, saying that the date, destination and airline could be nothing more than coincidence. However, FBI Special Agent Frank Burton in Philadelphia said the agency is "looking into" in any possible connections.

Bill Warner, a Sarasota, Fla., private investigator who has worked with federal agencies on terrorist-related issues, says the cases should raise red flags.

He says his investigation found that the man arrested in Tampa,
Raed Abduhl-Rahman Alsaif, 24, is a 2003 graduate of the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., a madrasa, or Islamic school, that has ben accused in the past of supporting radical Islamic causes and having potential terrorist ties.

Federal authorities would not comment on Alsaif's alleged ties to the Islamic Saudi Academy.

In 2005, New York
Sen. Charles Schumer called for an investigation into the Academy after the arrests of graduates and employees on terrorist -related charges, including one graduate who was accused of providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to assassinate the President of the United States.

Alsaif, who has two previous arrests on drug charges, was stopped during a security check on his way to boarding Flight 1077 to Phoenix. More............