Thursday, 4:30 PM
Police: Man arrested at Logan after claiming to be in Al Qaeda
By David Abel, Globe Staff
A 27-year-old man from Ethiopia was arraigned today at East Boston District Court on a charge that he made a false threat to "blow things up" at Logan International Airport.
Ermiyas A. Asfaw, a taxi driver who lives in Washington, D.C., walked up to an AirTran check-in counter Saturday night and was asked by an agent why he had stickers on his luggage from Dubai. Asfaw responded that he had been there.
The agent asked, "Were you there on business or pleasure?"
According to prosecutors, Asfaw responded: "No. I'm Al Qaeda. I'm with them, and I'm here to blow things up."
The agent responded that his statement was not funny and was against the law. Asfaw laughed, prosecutors said, and walked away from the counter. The ticket agent alerted a supervisor, who notified State Police.
Troopers sent a K-9 unit to check the bags but found no explosives. Police searched Terminal C but could not find Asfaw.
About 30 minutes later, a trooper called the cellphone listed on Asfaw's airline reservation. He was flying back to Washington, D.C. The trooper arranged to meet Asfaw and arrested him on charges of making a bomb threat.
In court this morning, Asfaw pleaded not guilty and shook his head as the prosecutor read the charges against him.
A public defender said he was in Boston to see his girlfriend. Judge Paul Mahoney ordered him held on $1,500 bail. Asfaw is scheduled to return to court Oct. 19.
Phil Orlandella, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the airport, chided Asfaw for his comments.
"This airport is not going to tolerate this type of behavior," Orlandella said. "This type of action is completely dumb."