News – abc1 5.com By: Steve Kuz
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PHOENIX – Sky Harbor Airport had a scare Friday when screeners found a bomb-like device in a traveler’s carry-on bag.
Sitting down with his hands in cuffs and his feet in chains, Ethiopian immigrant Shullu Gorado told ABC15 in a jailhouse interview the item that set off the panic at Sky Harbor was just Ethiopian food with a cell phone strapped to it.
Gorado says he gave it to a friend to take with her to another friend of theirs in Iowa, but investigators are suspicious of a possible terrorist plot.
Baggage screeners caught Gorado’s friend, Luwiza Daman, trying to bring the package as a carry-on in her luggage. She is Ethiopian as well.
“The way it was packaged, [screeners] believed it to be a potential IED (improvised explosive device),” Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said.
Daman was immediately detained. She told investigators Gorado gave her the bomb-like item. Both are in jail being questioned, in addition to a third Ethiopian man, Asa Shani.
According to court documents, Shani admitted to packaging the “hoax device” and arranged for Daman to transport the package to Iowa.
“The food and the cell phone were together,” Gorado explained. “[Officers] said this was not legal. I didn’t know you could not send food to the airport, that this was illegal. It was just regular food I bought from the store.”
Phoenix police admitted the suspicious item was not a bomb, but think it could be part of a much bigger terrorist plan. Many IEDs use cell phones as triggering devices, activated by calls from the bomber.
“Our concern is, was this a test for security there at the airport?” Martos said.
Investigators are worried Gorado and Daman wanted to see if they could get a real bomb past security and on a plane.
“Obviously we have the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching us, and with this particular incident certainly we are heightened to these types of scenarios,” Martos said.
All three suspects are charged with taking a hoax device on a plane and conspiracy to do the same. Both are felonies.
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Ethiopia – Eritrea : 3 arrested in fake bomb found at Phoenix airport