America

Dutch Release Two Men Detained On Terror Suspicions

These August 30, 2010 handout images pro

Handout images from  ABC World News shows Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi (l), of Detroit, MI, and Hezam al Murisi.  HO/Getty hide caption

itoggle caption HO/Getty

Dutch officials essentially said "never mind" Wednesday as they released the two men detained when they landed in Amsterdam earlier in the week because of suspicions that they might have been part of a terrorist plot.

Officials said they released Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi of Detroit and Hezam al-Murisi, a Yemeni.

The Dutch national prosecutor's office issued a statement saying it had acted to arrest the men out of an abundance of caution but had no reason to keep the men any further.

From the statement, as translated, imperfectly, by Google into English from the original Dutch:

The two Yemeni men detained since Monday on suspicion of being involved in preparing a terrorist act have been released tonight. Both men had been arrested after U.S. authorities had informed the Netherlands that in the luggage of one of them suspect goods were found. This luggage was intercepted by U.S. authorities and the U.S. remained. In a preliminary test was in America in addition to the possible presence of a trace of explosives on a piece observed. Both men were then already en route to the airport, in transit to their destination Sanaa (Yemen).

Dutch authorities on the information provided was so serious that it was decided not to take any chances...

Despite the somewhat flawed translation, you get the idea. The men, who did not know each other, raised suspicions because they had changed their flights to fly directly to Amsterdam instead of stopping in Washington.

One of them had taped watches together with medicinal bottles that were in his checked luggage and was traveling with $7,000 in cash.

It didn't help them that they were traveling to Yemen, considered one of al Qaida's bases and the place where the unsuccessful Christmas Day bombing plot was hatched.

This led some law enforcement officials to suspect the men of carrying out a dry run for a terrorist attack.

But even in the hours after the men were arrested, law enforcement officials cautioned the news media against drawing too many conclusions, saying that the suspicions were just that.

Yemen's Washington embassy issued a news release chiding some in the news media for hyping the detentions.

An excerpt:

According, to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the passengers were carrying items that were not deemed to be dangerous. It was also found that the Yemeni passengers missed their connecting flight to Washington, DC and were subsequently rebooked on a flight to Amsterdam.

Public was cautioned not to jump into early conclusions before investigations took its course. Unfortunately, some news outlets played a significant role in exaggerating the circumstances behind their arrests and what was initially a security inspection quickly became a media sensation highlighting an unfortunate, yet ongoing misunderstanding of Yemen and its citizens.

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