Monday 21 October 2019

Saudi man brought pressure cooker into US to make food not bombs says his lawyer

Melanie Leather

A Saudi Arabian man arrested in the US after a pressure cooker was discovered in his suitcase knew nothing about the device's use in the Boston Marathon bombings, his lawyer said.

Hussain al-Khawahir was accused of lying about why he was travelling with the device when it was discovered at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. He is also alleged to have used a passport with a missing page.

Al-Khawahir, 33, brought the pressure cooker at the request of his nephew, a college student in Ohio he planned to visit, his lawyer James Howarth said. He said the device was to be used for cooking, not bomb-making.

Two pressure cookers were used to set off shrapnel-packed bombs in Boston last month that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

"He doesn't know about Boston," Howarth said after a hearing in Detroit. The lawyer said a pressure cooker is now a "red-ticket item" because of the Boston bombings, but noted that, "carrying a pressure cooker does not make you a criminal in the United States."

Al-Khawahir, who was arrested on Saturday after arriving at the airport on a flight from Amsterdam, waived his right to a detention hearing, meaning he will remain in jail until a probable cause hearing on 28 May.

Al-Khawahir's nephew, Nasser Almarzooq, told The Associated Press on Monday that the arrest was a misunderstanding and that he wanted the high-quality device to cook lamb. Almarzooq, who is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Toledo near Detroit, said his uncle was coming to visit him for a couple weeks.

Agents said they also noticed at least one 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 court papers.

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