A heightened awareness of the potential dangers of pressure cookers may have led to the arrest of a Saudi Arabian man flying into Detroit's Metro Airport over the weekend. The man was arraigned in federal court on Monday for lying to Customs officers and allegedly altering his own passport. He also raised suspicions by carrying a pressure cooker in his luggage, much like the ones used to create the bombs that were set off at the Boston Marathon last month.
The Saudi citizen is not charged with any terrorism-related offenses, but he certainly raised flags, not just for having the pressure cooker, but for lying about it to authorities. According to The Detroit News, the man said he brought the pressure cooker for his nephew, who attends the University of Toledo, because they aren't sold in the United States (which is obviously not true). He later changed his story and said it was merely a replacement for one his nephew brought here.
Officers also noticed that pages had been removed from the man's passport, another major red flag, and a potentially serious offense for international travelers.
When you add all the factors together—the suspect also arrived in Detroit via Amsterdam, the same route taken by the 2009 Christmas Day "underwear bomber"—the whole situation seems very suspicious. Then again, it's not against the law to carry pressure cookers around, even on airplanes—even if they were classified as weapons of mass destruction in the Boston charges. And the man did fly all the way across the ocean without attempting anything dangerous. Perhaps there's more to the story that customs officials haven't revealed, but at the moment it looks like it may be nothing more than an overabundance of caution (or panic) driven by the fear of another Boston-style attack.