The Transportation Security Administration failed to detect two AK-47 assault-rifle magazines in the luggage of a Yemeni national who had been cleared to board a flight leaving JFK Airport in New York.
According to The New York Post,
32-year-old Bassam Alkhanshli was set to board Emirates Flight 202 to Yemen on Sunday when he was stopped because the agency noticed he and his travel companion had one-way tickets, which are considered a red flag by counterterrorism officials.
TSA screeners then questioned the men after they found they were carrying $26,000 in cash, above the $10,000 legal limit for travel, but subsequently cleared them for flight. Their 10 pieces of luggage had also been screened and cleared by the TSA.
It was only when Customs officials re-examined their luggage just before departure that they found two 30-round AK-47 magazine clips in one of Alkhanshli's bags. The clips were described as "high-capacity ammunition feeding devices," according to a criminal complaint, the Post reported.
"The TSA does not require ammunition and/or empty magazine clips to be declared to the airline, and the TSA is not actively searching for [them] in checked luggage," a TSA spokeswoman told the Post.
She added, "TSA's screening procedures, which are governed by federal law, are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers."
According to the Post, Alkhanshli was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on a charge of criminal passion of a weapon.
In his defense, his Legal Aid attorney pointed out that another person had been released on an airport weapons offense over the weekend, and that the clips did not contain bullets.
She added that her client has been a naturalized U.S. citizen since 2009 and is currently a Tennessee resident with a pistol permit.
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