Terrorism False Alarm?

Terrorism dry-run or just weirdly packaged items and a few coincidences?

While ABC News originally reported the detention of men who may have been involved in a “dry run” for a possible terror attack (ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Two Men on United Flight from Chicago Arrested on ‘Preparation of a Terrorist Attack’ in Amsterdam), it appears now that it may have been a false alarm.

WSFA via the AP reports:  Official: Unlikely two men were plotting terror attack

The U.S. official says the two men arrested in Amsterdam did not know each other and were not traveling together.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation, says both men missed flights to Dulles International Airport from Chicago, and United Airlines then booked them on the same flight to Amsterdam. The men were sitting near each other on the flight.

If it ends up that the two men ended up on the same flight simply because the airline re-routed them after a missed a flight, it would lessen the likelihood, it would seem, that they were partners of some sort.

Meanwhile, Time has the following:  The Amsterdam Arrests: Would-Be Terror or Badly Wrapped Gifts?

Dutch police appear to still be holding them as suspects, however.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Steve Plunk says:

    Cell phone taped to a Pepto bottle?  Traveling with box cutters?  If true these are provocative acts if not a dry run.

  2. Franklin says:

    Cell phone taped to a Pepto bottle?
    Another article I read claimed this was somehow a common practice for travelers from Yemen.  It didn’t explain *why* one would do that, however.
    Traveling with box cutters?
    This was in checked-in luggage, remember.  I don’t really see what the problem is here, unless one thinks it is some sort of symbolic gesture.

  3. legion says:

    I’ve gotta agree with Steve P. on this one… I have a really hard time imagining any explanation for this that isn’t all about testing detection.

  4. Ole_Sarge says:

    If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and “quacks” like a duck…
    then it’s …
    it’s a …
    That’s right kids, a dog.
    {insert eye-rolling smiley face} We are so screwed.