Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News-2013-05-17
A 33 year old Saudi Arabian man Hussain Al Khawahir was detained after arriving in Detroit in the United States on a flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands for carrying a pressure cooker in his luggage.
According to a complaint filed by federal prosecutors when Al Khawahir arrived in the US he was questioned about two missing pages from his passport and the pressure cooker he had in his luggage,
He said he brought the pressure cooker from Saudi Arabia for his nephew, a student at the University of Toledo in Ohio, because they were not sold in the US. He later changed his statement saying his nephew had bought a pressure cooker but it was cheap and broke when he tried to use it.
The attorney for Al Khawahir, James Howarth said his client is the victim of a misunderstanding by overzealous US customs agents. “I’m afraid that some overzealous agents were looking for anything. They see a pressure cooker and say, ‘This is a man who has to be detained.’”
Howarth said many people from Saudi Arabia travel with pressure cookers to cook lamb. “Carrying a pressure cooker in America is not against the law,” added Howarth.
Speaking to reporters at a hearing to determine whether Al Khawahir would be released on bail, Howarth said that he asked that the hearing not to proceed because it was clear Al Khawahir would be kept behind bars by US customs authorities whatever the outcome of the hearing.
A May 28 date was set to determine whether US prosecutors have enough evidence to bring the matter to a federal court. Howarth said the two pages missing from Al Khawahir’s passport were near the back of the booklet and likely not important.
Howarth highlighted if Al Khawahir had not been carrying a pressure cooker, his competing statements about it would not be cause for alarm. “If he had made a mistake about an electric skillet, he would be in Toledo today,” said Howarth.
Al Khawahir has been charged with offering false information to customs agents, part of the US Department of Homeland Security. If found guilty Al Khawahir faces up to five years in federal prison for giving false information to US agents.
On the 15th April pressure cookers packed with explosive powder and shrapnel were set off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing three people and injured 264.