The Dutch police have released two Yemeni men taken off a United Airlines flight that landed in Amsterdam from Chicago, saying there was no evidence connecting them to terrorism. However, the circumstances of their arrest clearly point to a “dry run” or deliberate provocation of security, with important questions remaining unanswered.
The two men, Ahmed Mohammed Nasser al-Soofi and Hezam al-Murisi, werearrested on their way to Yemen, where a very active branch of Al-Qaeda exists led by the American imam Anwar al-Awlaki. The affiliate is known for its success in recruiting Americans, including up to three dozen prison converts. Al-Awlaki has connections to numerous plots, including the Fort Hood shooting and theChristmas Day underwear bomb plot.
Al-Soofi first received scrutiny when he was flying to Chicago from Birmingham.Security found that he had $7,000 in cash on him, as well as a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together, watches taped together, a box cutter and three large knives in his checked baggage. Airportsecurity did not detect explosives and allowed al-Soofi and his materials to make it to Chicago.