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Saudi man travelling with pressure cooker arrested


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Detroit Metropolitan airport in Romulus, Mich.–AFP (file) Photo

DETROIT: A Saudi man was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after federal agents said he lied about why he was traveling with a pressure cooker, but his nephew said Monday that it was all a misunderstanding about a device he simply wanted for cooking.

Two pressure cookers were used in last month's Boston Marathon bombings. Hussain Al Khawahir was being held in Detroit on allegations of lying to Customs and Border Protection agents and of using a passport with a missing page. He was arrested Saturday.

His nephew, Nasser Almarzooq, told The Associated Press that he had asked his uncle to bring him the pressure cooker so he could make lamb. The college student said two pressure cookers he bought in the US were ''not good at all,'' and said the ones available in Saudi Arabia are higher quality.

''I'm Arabic,'' said Almarzooq, who is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Toledo in Ohio, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Detroit. ''I always use pressure cookers to cook.''

Almarzooq said his uncle was coming to visit him for a couple weeks. A criminal complaint alleges that Al Khawahir arrived at the airport on a flight from Saudi Arabia via Amsterdam, and that he told agents he was visiting his nephew.

He originally said he brought the pressure cooker with him because pressure cookers aren't sold in America, then later said his nephew had bought one but it ''was cheap'' and broke after one use, according to the complaint.

Agents said they also noticed a page was missing from Al Khawahir's passport from Saudi Arabia. He told them he didn't how it had been removed, and said the document had been locked in a box that only he, his wife and three children have access to in his home, according to the complaint.

Al Khawahir was read his rights, which he said he understood, and he invoked his right to remain silent, according to the complaint.

Gina Balaya, spokeswoman for the US attorney's office in Detroit, said Al Khawahir made his initial court appearance Sunday, but his Monday detention hearing was delayed until Tuesday afternoon. A message seeking comment was left with his defense attorney.

Authorities have said that in the Boston Marathon bombing, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev set off two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs April 15 near the race finish line. The attack killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

On Monday, Almarzooq said he was concerned about his uncle and hadn't been told anything since his uncle was arrested on Saturday. He also vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

''If I wanted to do something stupid like this, should I just take my uncle from Saudi Arabia to buy me a pressure cooker?'' he said. ''It's legal here.''

DAWN_VIDEO - /1029551/DAWN-RM-1x1

Comments (23) Closed

Yasin May 15, 2013 09:22am
Why go to USA at all? The solution lies in staying home.
omer khan shaheen May 14, 2013 08:46am
What a world today!!! You can't even cook your food with a peace of mind! Asians and Middle Eastern families cook almost everything in a pressure cooker does that make all of them a potential threat?????????
Danish Xuberi May 14, 2013 02:05pm
how can you cook chana daal in a wok "galay gi kasay?" or for that nmatter.
Touseef May 14, 2013 02:06pm
I don't think he was lying from the article as what he said was " They are cheap in Saudi Arabia" which can be true due to the fact of less taxes.
MSH May 14, 2013 01:57pm
This is completely crazy..the pressure cookers are cooking utensils and you just can't ban such ordinary the cookers were inside bags when the tragedy whats next..a ban on carrying bags!!
Stranger May 14, 2013 01:44pm
Terrorist are villians and not foolish. They wont do anything conspicious like getting a pressure cooker by fight to US. Even a child knows that US screens everything and every one even remotely associated wtih Asia or Africa.
debater May 14, 2013 01:43pm
The pressure cooker was a flag and paranoia that has gripped US although missing a page in your passport is a crime Internationally and a criminal offense.
sajid abdul saeed May 14, 2013 03:03pm
How ridiculously scared are these cowards.My nail cutter file was chopped off at security at an airport and steel forks and knives were given on the flight with meals.How many firing and killing ncidents have occured and they have not banned fire arms,nor knives and daggers of allsorts.By the way when will you ban rubber slings for mud shots.IDIOTS.There are right solutions but you americans are NOT ALLOWED to persue them.Pathetic.
concerned212 May 14, 2013 02:48pm
I feel sorry for the poor guy. But we must understand that in this day and age, and what has happened in the past, the americans have the right to be concerned with such acticity. I'm just hoping this guy is proven innocent and released.
Shahid May 14, 2013 02:25pm
It is true in the sense that had it happened in Saudi they too would arrest the person carrying the passport with missing page otherwise carrying a pressure cooker and giving one reason or other is pointless.
IMTIAZ FARUQUI May 15, 2013 03:37am
So the security agency will catch all visitors who bring pressure cookers , Let the world know that the American meat do not need these cookers. And the American' know that the meat in the 3rd world is like rubber .you can not cook it without a pressure cooker.
Yasin May 14, 2013 06:14pm
Loosing a page from the passport is not funny at all.
Rashid May 14, 2013 06:12pm
And what are tose 'right solutions'? Will you please tell us.
pakistan May 14, 2013 09:14pm
Hey i use pressure cookers otherwise i cant do a PhD because all the time i will be waiting for the meat to get properly cooked....
Rashid May 14, 2013 08:59am
True. But fear makes people think irrationally and act strangely. That's the moral of the story.
MAK May 14, 2013 09:35am
alas! time has come to make chana daal in a wok instead of a pressure cooker..
Pavas Ambashta May 14, 2013 10:28am
Pressure Cookers were used in Boston Marathon bombings..And every country has full right to defend its law and order. According to article the man lied to the security personnel about the motives behind takin Pressure Cookers, furthermore one page of his passport as also missing..This certainely raises doubts and the US doesnt want to take any chance.. So far as the matter of rationality is concerned, I am afraid that Saudis are among the most irrational persons, where a person can be arrested just for celebrating christmas in his house!!
G.A. May 14, 2013 12:02pm
What he should've said was that he is here to attend a marathon. That would really have thrown the Americans in a frenzy. But seriously, why would he bring along a pressure cooker when we know how Americans react these days?
Ali May 14, 2013 12:08pm
I mean it almost funny
Mobi May 14, 2013 04:20pm
Mr Pavas, Middle East is home to Millions of foreigners. They belong to different faiths. If they all were so unhappy why do they still tend to stay there? If there faith was suppressed so much, how come they take their families there? I certainly would not live in such a place. Home to hundreds of thousands of Indians and living their life, far better than what they can dream of in India. Defending law and order is one thing, being obsessed with law and order is another thing? US has all rights to defend it self, no doubt about it but not every human being on this earth with a pressure cooker is gona blow up? I guess you are going to stop using pressure cookers from now onward my friend. Just because he is a Saudi and a Muslim, oh my god something's fishy. Its not the US that's obsessed its people like you who are confused with being rational or irrational.
Nasr May 14, 2013 04:35pm
Now there may be a law banning Preassure Cookers
angela May 15, 2013 07:19am
How someone can proof that Passport page was not removed by the same security personnel. Why would they do it? Just to get an easy scapegoat!!! Yes, they can do it. The passports nowdays are made tempered proof. The pages cannot be removed easily. The person flew from Saudi Arabia via Amsterdam, no one noticed at the check-in counter, security at any other Airport but Americans found that may be immediately. Did the security personnel counted the pages or gone thru page by page to see all pages are there. Do they really do with every passenger. It looks like American Security personnel found a highjacker's Passport near the destroyed World Trade Center building which came intact thru the burning plane and the building landed only to be found by these security personnel. How Amazing and Intellegent Americans.
Yasin May 15, 2013 09:26am
Desert sands is the most fertile ground for conspiracy theorists.