Luwiza Laku Daman, right, and Shullu Gorado..
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
Aug. 17, 2011 — When a Somali immigrant was stopped by TSA agents last week at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport for allegedly carrying a fake bomb onto a plane, no one really seemed to notice.
Sure, it was reported by all the usual sources, but because it is an ongoing investigation, law enforcement — specifically the FBI — is not providing many details. The only three people that had anything to do with the ‘fake bomb’ — as far as the public knows — are in jail. The only information available for public consumption is a press release from the FBI announcing a complaint had been filed and the complaint itself.
The scant evidence — Sheriff’s Office mugshots and the complaint — leaves a wide range of options within which to speculate on what happened. But make no mistake, this might be one of the most important homeland security events since 2001.
But then again, it could be just someone carrying something that authorities thought was bomb although it was an innocent mistake.
See what I mean?
Luwiza Laku Daman, the Somali woman who was taken into custody by TSA and Phoenix Police for trying to get through security with what looked like a bomb, told law enforcement she came to Phoenix from Des Moines, Iowa, for a wedding and that she was indirectly given a package from a Somali living in Phoenix. She was asked by a friend to take the package to a Somali man living in DesMoines. Virtually all of the other details of Daman’s initial story have changed, although in the complaint it is acknowledged that language barriers between law enforcement and the suspects made interrogations difficult.
But the inconsistencies don’t really seem to amount to much. Daman, who has been in the U.S. for about four months, initially said she was staying with one woman, but that person said she stayed with another woman. The details of how she got the package have changed — but just how she got it. One version of the story says “Jaffa” who eventually was discovered to be Shullu Gorado of West Phoenix gave it to another woman at her house. Another story says he gave it to same woman at another person’s home.
He was sending some “halva” a middle-eastern confection, to friends in Iowa. The halva, according to police, was the simulated explosive.
Another man, Asa Shani, says he found a cellular phone in Phoenix and was hoping Daman would take it to his brother in Des Moines. It was taped to the top of the box of halva. He even took investigators out to his car where they inspected the tape he used.
That, according to investigators, was the simulated detonator.
Now, that is the story the suspects told. As every red-blooded American knows from the cop shows, the stories might just be a tale, or it may be the truth.
The federal complain charges the three suspects with violation of Title 18 — which makes it illegal to transmit a fake bomb through security at an airport. Even if the simualted exposive device turns out to be some sugar and flour in a box with a phone taped on it. The thing didn’t even have any wires.
Special Agent Benjamin Oesterle wrote in the complaint that it was believed that the actions of Daman, Gorado and Shani could have been to probe airport security to find out how to exploit it and TSA’s response. But the fact is, if that is happening, who is financing them and where will they strike next? If some terror group is responsible for probing two airports thousands of miles apart within the same few days, isn’t that a pretty big threat?
But then again, it might just be a few security guards and cops getting a little too paranoid about a box of dessert and a cell phone.
John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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