Skip to comments.Saudi National Found Innocent of Carrying Explosives on Plane
Posted on 02/28/2004 8:46:32 PM PST by Straight Vermonter
WASHINGTON, 29 February 2004 A Saudi biomedical engineer, charged with carrying explosive or incendiary devices onto an aircraft and lying to a federal officer, was acquitted by a federal jury yesterday.
Essam Muhammad Al-Mohandis, 33, from Riyadh, entered the US on a valid business visa to attend a training seminar in Boston on how to maintain DNA equipment that his Riyadh hospital had bought.
Essam, who spent three weeks in jail, told reporters he was not bitter about the experience but he still had no idea how the fireworks got into his backpack.
I would like to thank all of the people in this country. I am sure they are taking care of their country, he said. And I thank God who saved me.
The legal nightmare began when he took a flight from Riyadh to Frankfurt, Germany, and from Frankfurt to Boston, Massachusetts. Upon his arrival at Logan Airport, Essam consented to a Customs and Border Protection search of his carry-on luggage which revealed three sparklers in an outer pocket of his backpack.
To further complicate matters, Essam changed his story about the sparklers sticks with pyrotechnic powder that send out sparks when lit. When questioned about the devices, Essam first told agents they were artists pens and then later said he did not know what they were and that his wife might have placed them in his backpack.
Authorities said the explosive pieces could have ignited an improvised bomb if used together, but not necessarily individually.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for two days before reaching a verdict. We believe he did not know they were in the bag, said juror Seth Hirschorn. Both Hirschorn and jury foreman, Randy Davis, however, told journalists the prosecutors were justified in bringing the case to court, and were happy the US officials had found the sparklers.
I travel, so Im glad they found them, said Hirschorn.
After the verdict, Essam hugged prosecutor Gregory Moffatt, saying: This is the man who is taking care of America.
Why use anything as obvious as sparklers? Why not use non-dairy coffee creamer?
Just plain nuts.
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