It appears that there is nothing so unnerving as a Saudi man traveling with a pressure cooker these days. Hussain Al Khawahir was arrested in Detroit after he was found with luggage containing a pressure cooker — the common kitchen appliance used by the Boston Marathon bombers. The question is why the federal authorities are still holding the man who allegedly had a page missing from his passport and found in possession of a kitchen appliance.
Al Khawahir was stopped at the Detroit airport under suspicion of using an altered passport. They then found the pressure cooker. At first, Al Khawahir said that he was bringing the pressure cooker to his nephew because you cannot buy pressure cookers in America. That did not go very far with Customs officials and he then said that his nephew’s pressure cooker was broken. The nephew, Nasser Almarzooq, supported his account and said that his uncle just wanted him to be able to make lamb dishes.
The problem is that his uncle could not be charged with both an altered passport and lying to federal agents. However, the lie was about a kitchen item. Does it really make sense for a terrorist to bring in a pressure cooker when you can buy them at any appliance store? The whole idea of the design in Boston is that it could be made from ubiquitous or commonplace items.
Al Khawahir was traveling with a B1/B2 visa and the missing page raises concerns over tampering with travel documents. Ripping out pages can hide travel history. However, the man insisted that he had no idea why the page was missing. I can only hope that this whole controversy is not due to the pressure cooker itself . . . but nothing would surprise me these days. It would be a relief if our federal agents would issue a statement that traveling with a pressure cooker in your luggage is the not reason why this man was arrested or being held. Lamb stew chefs around the world need to know that our borders are once again open to pressure cookers.