As KHON2 first reported Thursday, the FBI is analyzing a modified pressure cooker intercepted by security screeners at Hilo airport.
The device along with bomb making literature and batteries wrapped in black tape all in a checked bag were enough to get the FBI’s attention, but not enough to get the passenger arrested.
We wanted to know what the laws are concerning suspicious materials flagged at the airport.
The man was questioned but never arrested.
So as far as the FBI is concerned, he didn’t break any laws.
But if he did pose a threat, that’s another story.
The incident happened at Hilo Airport on Wednesday.
The FBI says a man attempted to check in luggage that contained a modified pressure cooker. A pressure cooker was used in the Boston Marathon bombings last month.
Sources say bomb making literature and batteries wrapped in black tape were also found. A criminal defense attorney says those materials by themselves aren’t enough to get arrested.
“It sounds like someone who was trying to get the attention of the authorities for whatever reason, whether he was mentally disturbed or he was trying to provoke a response and he got the response he was looking for,” said Myles Breiner, criminal defense attorney.
The FBI detained and questioned the man and then released him. The FBI says the pressure cooker and other contents in the luggage were confiscated. But there were no actual explosives in the luggage or on the passenger.
The FBI also says the incident posed no imminent threat, which Breiner says is critical. If the FBI felt the man was dangerous, he could have been arrested through the Patriot Act.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has approved detaining people effectively in perpetuity in Guantanamo if they are an immediate threat or an imminent threat to the public or to themselves,” said Breiner.
Was it enough to get the man on the No Fly list? The FBI wouldn’t say. Sources say the man did try to fly out from Hilo again yesterday, and was again questioned and released. Breiner says this shows that the man is already getting a lot of attention from the FBI.
“They look at cell phone records, they look at prior behavior, any history to associate this with any type of criminal behavior or anything suggestive of terroristic intent,” said Breiner.
The FBI isn’t answering any more questions about this. The investigation is ongoing.