DETROIT May 14 The attorney for a Saudi Arabian
man arrested at the Detroit airport over the weekend carrying a
pressure cooker in his luggage said his client is the victim of
a misunderstanding by overzealous U.S. customs agents.
Hussain Al Khawahir, 33, was detained after arriving in
Detroit on a flight from Amsterdam.
Pressure cookers packed with explosive powder and shrapnel
were set off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April
15, killing three people and injured 264.
"I'm afraid that some overzealous agents were looking for
anything," said James Howarth, the attorney representing Al
Khawahir. "They see a pressure cooker and say, 'This is a man
who has to be detained.'"
Howarth said many people from Saudi Arabia travel with
pressure cookers to cook lamb.
"Carrying a pressure cooker in America is not against the
law," he said.
On May 11, Al Khawahir was questioned about two missing
pages from his passport and the pressure cooker he had in his
luggage, according to a complaint filed by federal prosecutors.
Al Khawahir initially said he brought the pressure cooker
from Saudi Arabia for his nephew, a student at the University of
Toledo in Ohio, because they are not sold in America. But he
then said that his nephew had bought a pressure cooker but it
was cheap and broke when he tried to use it, according to the
He is charged with offering false information to customs
agents, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Howarth spoke to reporters at a hearing on Tuesday to
determine whether Al Khawahir would be released on bond. His
lawyer said that he asked that the hearing not proceed because
it was clear Al Khawahir would be kept behind bars by U.S.
customs authorities whatever the outcome of the hearing.
A May 28 date was set to determine whether U.S. prosecutors
have enough evidence to bring the matter to a federal court.
The two pages missing from Al Khawahir's passport were near
the back of the booklet and likely were not important, Howarth
He said that if Al Khawahir had not been carrying a pressure
cooker, his competing statements about it would not be cause for
"If he had made a mistake about an electric skillet, he
would be in Toledo today," Howarth told reporters. Toledo is
about 60 miles (100 km) south of Detroit.
Al Khawahir faces up to five years in federal prison if he
is found guilty of giving false information to the U.S. agents.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Greg McCune and Eric