Federal law enforcement officials launched an investigation after an Iraqi national was found carrying a suspicious item inside his body as he was going through security screening at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) early Tuesday, March 6th, authorities said.
The man, identified as Fadhel al-Maliki, age 35 and a resident of Atlantic City, New Jersey, was later determined not to pose any threat, said Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spokesman Kenneth Smith.
Al-Maliki had a paid ticket for a US Airways flight bound for Philadelphia and was passing through secondary screening in Terminal 1 at about 5:40 a.m., when he alerted security screeners that he had an object inside his body that would probably set off the alarm, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesman Nico Melendez said.
TSA officials immediately notified airport security, federal law enforcement officers and bomb squad personnel.
The object was examined by the bomb squad and was determined not to be threatening or explosive, Smith said.
“The situation was dealt with efficiently,” Smith said. “The process and procedures we have worked.”
The terminal was not evacuated and the incident had no effect on airport operations, TSA officials said.
The incident prompted law enforcement officials to search the flight al-Maliki was planning to board, which had already departed, Smith said.
The flight was diverted in an “abundance of caution” to Las Vegas, where the passengers were taken off the plane and al-Maliki’s checked baggage was thoroughly screened, TSA officials said.
Authorities found no suspicious or illegal items inside the luggage, Smith said.
The flight later departed for Philadelphia without further incident, he said.
Al-Maliki, who is a U.S. resident with permanent legal status, was not charged with a crime, Smith said.