2 Men Who Found Bomb in Chelsea Are Identified as
Airline Security Guards
CAIRO — Two men who found a travel bag containing a bomb on a Manhattan street last month — and then walked off with the bag but left the bomb — were not just employees of EgyptAir but in-flight security officers for the carrier, two officials at the airline said on Friday.
Surveillance footage showed two men finding the bag on West 27th Street on the evening of Sept. 17, soon after a bomb exploded on West 23rd Street, injuring 31 people and triggering terrorism fears across the region.
In the video, the men were seen pulling from the travel bag a white plastic bag that contained a pressure cooker connected to wires and a mobile phone. They left the white bag on the sidewalk and walked away with the travel bag. The bomb did not explode, and investigators have said that the men may have inadvertently disabled the device.
The two men, identified as Hassan Ali and Abou Bakr Radwan, had flown to New York from here, serving as unarmed security guards on the flight, the officials said.
The bag they found contained one of several homemade bombs that prosecutors say were planted that day in New York and New Jersey by Ahmad Khan Rahami, an Afghan-born American citizen.
American investigators released footage of the two men, appealing for help in identifying them.
The EgyptAir officials who identified them as Mr. Ali and Mr. Radwan spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The officials said they believed that the two employees were not connected to Mr. Rahami or the bomb plot.
“They didn’t know what was in it,” one of the officials said of the travel bag. Mr. Ali “told me he saw it and thought it was nice,” the official recalled. “He opened the bag to check it out and found a pot.”
Mr. Ali did not want to go to the trouble of flying the pot back to Cairo, the official said, so he put it aside and left with the travel bag.
“You know, we see things left on the street in New York all the time,” the official said. “Stuff no one wants. It’s normal to take them.”
The two men told friends and colleagues that they had not read the news or realized the significance of their find until Egyptian reporters started calling EgyptAir, the officials said.
One of the officials said Mr. Ali and Mr. Radwan flew back to Cairo the day after the episode. American investigators have not been able to interview them, the officials said..
Egyptian police officers went to Cairo International Airport on Friday to question the two men but were unable to find them because it was their day off, one of the officials said.
Mr. Ali and Mr. Radwan have not been disciplined by EgyptAir, staff members of the airline said. Tarek Attiya, a spokesman for the police, said he could not deny or confirm any of the developments.
Link: New York Times Article