The Dutch public prosecutor said the two Yemeni men are being held on suspicion of a conspiracy to commit a terrorist criminal act. Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi and Hezam al-Mursi were arrested at Schiphol on arrival from Chicago after US authorities had raised concerns about suspicious items in their luggage and feared they were making a dry run for a terrorist attack. The luggage, which had been checked through to another destination, contained box cutters, knives and a cell phone taped to a medicine bottle, three cell phones taped together and several watches taped together and 7,000 dollars.
The Dutch prosecutor promised to make the conspiracy public if the men were charged.
The incident recalls former cases of lax security at US airports for both domestic and international flights.
They were allowed to fly out of Chicago aboard United Airlines Flight 908 because they did not carry explosives or "prohibited items" in their carry-on baggage, even though security concerns about the pair began in Birmingham, Alabama, were Soofi was stopped over his bulky clothing.
The suspect items and cash were found in his luggage but because no explosives were found he was cleared for the flight to Chicago.
There, he appears to have checked his luggage on a flight bound for Yemen with stops at Washington's Dulles Airport and Dubai while he joined Mursi and the two boarded a flight to Amsterdam.
His unaccompanied luggage traveled as far as Washington when officials learned he was not aboard the next lap of the flight to Dubai. The plane was ordered to return to the gate, where the baggage was removed.
debkafile's counter-terror sources add: This chain of events suggests the two men belonged to an al Qaeda cell which had been instructed to reverse the expected procedure for an attack inside the United States. Instead of preparing an explosive device in the Middle East for smuggling into the United States, the materials were to be shipped to Yemen, rigged there with explosives there and returned in suitcases bearing US security markings as cleared luggage.
The Chicago and Birmingham, Alabama airports both slipped up when they failed to arrest Soofi.