Nothing to see here! Sit back, have some Muhammad conspiracy chocolate, and don’t ask which seminar Kumar went to, who he is, who he met with while he was here, where he got his literature, or why he was so nervous. “Airport Weapon Arrest Reveals Jihadist Books,” by Stephen Dean for Click2Houston, August 20:
HOUSTON — A traveler from India has been arrested on a weapons charge at Bush Intercontinental Airport, and police said the man was carrying extremist books that refer to “jihad” and “infidels,” Local 2 Investigates reported Friday.
“He had a ton of books,” said one law enforcement official involved in the lunch-hour arrest.
The man also had a large amount of cash and a portable computer storage device capable of holding documents and data, officials said.
Police identify the passenger as Vijay Kumar, a resident of Mumbai, India.
He has been booked into a Houston jail on charges of possession of a prohibited weapon after brass knuckles were found in his checked luggage.
Law enforcement officials involved in the arrest said that Kumar was pulled out of the Terminal E security screening line for a closer look after TSA behavioral detection officers noticed he was sweating and fidgeting.
Officers said they then found the brass knuckles, as well as several books and diagrams in his carry-on luggage, including one book titled, “New Voices of Islam,” and another espionage publication called “Spycraft.”
Officers said many of the books were written in Arabic, but they did notice English publications that refer to “jihad” and “infidels.” They also found diagrams that purport to describe U.S. military weaponry, according to law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
FBI agents were called to the screening area where Kumar was being arrested. Agents are trying to determine the contents of a flash drive, or thumb drive, that was confiscated as he was arrested.
“It definitely raised our concerns,” said one law enforcement official who was involved in the arrest. “Not your everyday passenger would have this sort of stuff, and it definitely poses a concern for anyone involved in airport security.”
The incident raised an even higher security alert at Intercontinental Airport Terminal E for a short while because alarms sounded to indicate that explosive residue had been detected by a swab that was run over the passenger’s bag.
The swab originally indicated that TATP (a homemade explosive) residue was present on the man’s bag. A second and third test came up negative, so the first test was being treated as a false alarm.
Airport officials said other passengers were not affected by the incident, as most of the activity happened in a private screening area away from the Terminal E checkpoints.
Houston Police Department Criminal Intelligence Division officers are digging further into Kumar’s background. They are being assisted by FBI agents.
Investigators said that Kumar claimed he was in Houston for some sort of “Islamic seminar.”
It wouldn’t be the first time an Islamic seminar in Houston drew some serious “misunderstanders.”
In addition to the publications, thumb drive, and the brass knuckles confiscated by police, investigators said that Kumar had a large amount of cash that had not been declared to Customs officials as part of his travel.
Investigators told KPRC Local 2 Investigates that at least $8,000 in U.S. bills were found, along with thousands of dollars in a foreign currency. Federal law requires passengers to declare any time they are traveling with $10,000 or more, and officers point out there was no such declaration in this case.
A Justice Department official said it was not clear whether a federal hold would be placed on Kumar, which would allow him to be jailed longer while he is investigated further.
The weapons count could normally mean a quick release from jail after a fairly low bond is posted, but a federal hold would allow him to remain in custody as federal agents search for any potential terrorism ties or reason for concern.
UPDATE, August 25: As further information has come out, a few clarifications are in order. First, as should be obvious, this Vijay Kumar and the congressional candidate from Tennessee are not the same person. Second, the one who was arrested in the Houston airport described himself as non-Muslim, and working on a book. One However, the system worked in Houston: red flags were raised (behavior, brass knuckles, jihadist literature) and caught, though one hopes that was not part of the research for the book.