Two American men "of Yemeni descent" are being questioned by Dutch police (among others) after they boarded a flight carrying a bunch of suspicious—but legal—items. Officials suspect they were on a "dry run" for a hijacking attempt. (UPDATED)
A search of one of the men by airport security screeners in Birmingham, Ala., as he waited to board a flight to Chicago earlier on Sunday found that he was carrying $7,000 in cash and that his luggage contained a cellphone taped to a bottle of Pepto-Bismol, three cellphones taped together and several watches taped together, a senior law enforcement official said.
None of those things are technically illegal, so the man was allowed to fly on to Chicago, where he joined another man on a flight to Amsterdam. ABC News identifies the men as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezem al Murisi. They report that air marshals were aboard that flight already, due to a "heightened state of alert to a possible hijacking of U.S. carrier flights from the Middle East." The men were being watched by the air marshals during the whole flight. Closely, one hopes.
U.S. officials said the two appeared to be travelling with what were termed "mock bombs" in their luggage. "This was almost certainly a dry run, a test," said one senior law enforcement official.
From a "Can't We All Just Get Along?" perspective, this was poorly timed.
UPDATE: And this is why they do all that waterboarding—the AP's now reporting that the two men "did not know each other and were not traveling together," and furthermore, "Earlier, U.S. officials said they were investigating whether the two men had been conducting a dry run for a potential terrorist attack. But as the probe evolved, officials said that appeared unlikely." This outcome is equally bad from a "Can't We All Just Get Along?" perspective.