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LA scare diverts plane to Vegas

AP | March 7, 2007

LOS ANGELES - An Iraqi immigrant with a suspicious device lodged in a body cavity was detained Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said.

A jetliner bound for Philadelphia, meanwhile, was diverted to Las Vegas because the man's luggage was aboard.

Officials said the device and the luggage were cleared by bomb squads in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

"There never was a threat," said Larry Fetters, a security director for the federal Transportation Security Administration.

Fadhel Al-Maliki, 35, was held for a mental evaluation and for a possible immigration violation, federal officials said.

Al-Maliki, of Atlantic City, N.J., is a permanent legal resident who came to the U.S. in 1994.

He had flown to Los Angeles from Philadelphia on Monday and was booked for a return flight early Tuesday. He triggered an alert during a security screening, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

"He initially said (the device) was therapeutic," she said.

The device had a wire and what may have been a magnet concealed in his rectum, federal officials said. It did not contain any explosives.

Al-Maliki said he had flown to Los Angeles for a visit, Eimiller said.

No takeoffs or landings were affected at the LA airport. But a US Airways jet en route to Philadelphia was diverted because Al-Maliki's checked luggage already had been screened and put aboard.

Flight 1422, carrying 143 passengers and six crew, landed at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas about 8:30 a.m. The plane was searched and later cleared to continue on to Philadelphia, an airport spokesman said.



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