Saturday, May 22, 2004 Man Held for Bomb threat and immigration violations on Greyhound heded to Dallas | News for Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas | Texas/Southwest

Man tells immigration officials he left bomb on bus
Nothing found on Dallas-bound shuttle; he's in custody

09:41 PM CDT on Friday, May 21, 2004


An undocumented Egyptian man taken off a Dallas-bound Greyhound bus Thursday night near El Paso told immigration authorities that he had left a bomb onboard.

The bus was stopped and searched, but no bomb was found and the man was being held Friday on immigration violations.

Border Patrol spokesman Bill Brooks said the 41-year-old man initially told agents at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint that he wasn't traveling with any luggage other than a backpack.

"During inspection, we found he had a baggage claim receipt," Mr. Brooks said. "We asked him what was in the bag. He said it was a bomb."

Roughly two hours after the arrest, a bomb squad stopped the bus on a deserted stretch of Interstate 10, about 120 miles east of Sierra Blanca. Passengers were asked to disembark and traffic was blocked off for several miles in both directions while officers searched the bus, officials said.

"There's no interest in this guy as a terrorism threat," said Special Agent Andrea Simmons, an FBI spokeswoman in El Paso. "It sounds as though there might be some mental stability concerns."

Officials declined to identify the man, who was being held Friday at the Hudspeth County Jail due to his immigration status.

George Campbell, assistant chief Border Patrol agent for the Marfa sector, said the man had been deported from the United States in 2002 and apparently re-entered the country through New York City sometime this year. He said the man told officers that he was headed to Dallas.

Agent Campbell said federal prosecutors in El Paso will probably charge the man with re-entering the country in violation of his deportation order.

Twenty-seven passengers arrived at the Greyhound station in downtown Dallas shortly after 3 p.m. Friday.

Some said they were surprised it took law enforcement officials two hours to stop the bus after the bomb threat was made.

"It was surreal, an awful experience," said passenger Michele Douglas, 34. "It was unbelievable. This kind of thing just doesn't happen on a Greyhound bus."

Passengers said they were asked to leave their belongings in the bus, disembark and form a single line. While officers searched the bus, passengers said they had to wait in the rain. They were then transported to the Reeves County Sheriff's Department on a jail bus, they said.

"When they told us to step away from the bus we knew it was a red alert," said passenger Charlie Briggs, 48. "We left everything on the bus. Everything was tossed out in the rain."

The passengers said they were told the inspection was connected to the immigration arrest but were not told about the bomb threat for several hours.

A spokeswoman for Greyhound Lines Inc. said passengers who were on that bus will be reimbursed for the cost of their fare if they request it.

"Events were largely out of our control," said Lynn Brown, vice president for corporate communications for Greyhound in Dallas. "In situations like these, we cooperate fully with authorities. Passenger safety is our top concern."

Ms. Douglas said the ordeal made her miss her bus connection to Savannah, Ga., and she would have to wait four hours to catch the next bus in that direction.

"A shower would be nice," she said.



Post a Comment

<< Home