Alleged terror plotters got through O'Hare security

August 31, 2010 3:24:09 AM PDT
Two men on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Amsterdam have been charged by police with preparing a terrorist attack.

This has all the markings of a terror attack dry run.

Suspicious, but not illegal items in checked baggage were sent to cities separate from the two passengers, who had boarded planes in a small city, connecting through Chicago for Europe.

Now the men are in custody in Amsterdam while American law enforcement tries to sort out what happened and why.

The men landed in Amsterdam and were taken into custody by Dutch authorities, charged with "preparation of a terrorist attack" at the request of U.S. law enforcement.

A spokesman for Dutch prosecutors said the two men were arrested Monday morning and that "the investigation is ongoing."

One of the men is from Detroit, an American citizen from Yemen, according to a Michigan neighbor. It is unclear where the other man is from.

When the two men went through security at the Birmingham, Alabama, airport Sunday -- the start of their trip -- the bulky clothing worn by one of the men attracted security and resulted in additional screening. Nevertheless, they were allowed to fly to O'Hare and board the flight for Amsterdam.

One of the men, the Detroit resident, was found to be carrying $7,000 in cash -- under the $10,000 limit, but alarming to security.

In view of this, a check of his luggage found a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together, several watches taped together, a box cutter and three large knives. Authorities said there was no indication of explosives. He and his luggage were cleared for the flight from overseas.

The oddly concocted cell phones and Pepto-Bismol bottle are being called a "mock bomb" by U.S. counterterrorism investigators.

There are countless questions about how this played out: A United Airlines spokesman says call the FBI. An FBI Spokesperson says, "No charges filed here, call the Dutch." Chicago aviation says this is a TSA matter.

A TSA spokesperson is trying to track down info.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Chicago was checking on this. They were not aware of the charges before ABC 7 contacted that office.