KARACHI: The police have released a man who was detained at the Karachi airport as he tried to board a plane for the Middle East with batteries and an electrical circuit in his shoes.
Faiz Mohammad, a 30-yearold civil engineer, was held on Sunday when a scanner sounded an alarm as he proceeded to boarding a Thai Airways flight to Muscat. Faiz Mohammad, who was not carrying any explosives, told police his footwear had an inbuilt massage system. Police and intelligence agencies questioned him extensively before clearing him of trying to commit any terrorist activity on the plane, chief police investigator Niaz Khosa said.
“The joint investigation team extensively questioned him and in the end found him innocent,” Khosa told AFP. “The man has been released,” he said. “We also engaged our experts and people in the market who confirmed that the shoes he was wearing were for massage and easily available in the market,” Khosa said. He said that it was the first such incident and had “alarmed” the police. Airport Security Force spokesman Mohammad Munir called the discovery of four batteries, a circuit and an on-off button in Mohammad’s shoes as “worrying” on Sunday. Khosa said the detention was not a mock exercise by the airport authorities to check their security efficiency.
“It was certainly not a sort of mock exercise. The problem was just that no passenger in the past had earlier been seen with such shoes,” he said. Faiz Mohammad told investigators that he was travelling to Muscat, where he had worked for a construction company, to set up his own business. Pakistan suffers from chronic violence. Bomb attacks across the country have killed 3,300 people since July 2007. A British man, Richard Reid, tried to blow up a transatlantic jet in December 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoes.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.