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Man with altered Saudi passport arrested with pressure cooker at Detroit airport

Carlos Osorio/AP file

The man was flying into Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus, Mich., according to a criminal complaint filed Monday, May 13.

A man traveling with an altered Saudi Arabian passport was in federal court Monday after a pressure cooker was discovered in his luggage at the Detroit airport over the weekend.

The man, identified in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court as Hussain Al Kwawahir, made his initial court appearance Monday on charges of altering a passport and lying to customs officials.

Two pressure cooker bombs were used in the attacks that killed three people and injured more than 250 others last month at the Boston Marathon.


Al Kwawahir, 33, wasn't charged with any terrorism-related offenses, however, and U.S. officials told NBC News they were handling the incident as simply a documents case.

The incident occurred Saturday at Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus, Mich., authorities said. When customs officials noticed that a page had been removed from Al Kwawahir's passport, they examined his luggage and found the pressure cooker, the complaint said.


Al Kwawahir, who was flying into Detroit from Amsterdam, told agents he didn't know how or why the page had been removed.

Al Kwawahir first explained the pressure cooker by saying he'd bought it as a gift for his nephew, who he said was a student at the University of Toledo in Ohio, believing they weren't sold in the U.S. He then changed his story, saying his nephew had managed to buy a pressure cooker in the U.S. but that it had broken.

The complaint didn't explain why the nephew needed someone to fly into the country with a pressure cooker, but the U.S. officials told NBC News that federal agents tracked him down and said he does, indeed, cook with one. 

The Associated Press quoted the young man, Nasser Almarzooq, as saying he'd asked his uncle to bring him the pressure cooker because he wanted to cook lamb and the cookers he bought in the U.S. didn't work.

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Pete Williams of NBC News contributed to this report.