WASHINGTON — Two men on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Amsterdam were questioned by Dutch authorities after US officials found a cellphone taped to a Pepto Bismol bottle and a knife and box cutter in checked luggage connected with the men, a law enforcement official said.
The official identified the men as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezam al Murisi. Soofi had a Michigan address, the official said, but it was not immediately clear where the two men were from.
ABC News, which first reported the incident, said Soofi was from Detroit and both he and Murisi were charged in the Netherlands with “preparation of a terrorist attack,’’ but US officials would not confirm that.
Soofi was questioned as he went through security in Birmingham, Ala., on his way to Chicago, according to one of the officials. Officials found multiple cellphones taped together and multiple watches taped together in his checked baggage.
Soofi was supposed to fly from Chicago to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, and then on to Amsterdam, the official said. But when he got to Chicago, he changed his travel plans to take a direct flight from Chicago to Amsterdam. Murisi also changed his travel plans in Chicago to take a direct flight to Amsterdam.
Amy Kudwa, Homeland Security spokeswoman, said once officials found suspicious items, they notified Dutch authorities. It is not illegal to carry knives in checked baggage.