TSA stops suspicious item at Newark Airport checkpoint: Nine arrested for TV stunt

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Local Press Release
Friday, January 19, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. – Nine people were arrested yesterday, January 18, after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a suspicious item in a carry-on bag at a Newark Liberty International Airport checkpoint.

The preliminary investigation indicates that all were in collaboration and claimed to be working for a television network. Some members of the group attempted to intentionally carry through the security checkpoint an item in a carry-on bag that had all of the makings of an improvised explosive device. At the same time, others in the group covertly filmed the encounter.

The group did not make it past the checkpoint because TSA officers detected the item, which was concealed in a roller bag.

“Transportation security is serious business,” said Tom Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “Our officers did an excellent job in detecting the device and following protocol once it was identified. I am proud of the way it was handled by our TSA team, by the Port Authority Police and our Federal law enforcement partners.”

The preliminary investigation determined that the group wanted to ascertain if they could get the item through the security checkpoint while filming themselves doing so. They failed, were caught by TSA and were arrested by Port Authority Police on multiple charges. They also face possible civil penalties by TSA. TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties against individuals of over $13,000 for each violation of TSA’s security regulations.

“This type of stunt is reckless, dangerous, uninformed and totally insensitive to the reality of the terror threat we face. It is the equivalent to yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater or using a toy gun to rob a bank and then claiming that it was just a toy, just to see what happens,” Carter said. “There is simply no excuse for trying to do something like this knowing it had the great potential to cause panic with the intention of turning that panic into a reality show. The reality is that all of these individuals were arrested and face heavy civil penalties as well.”

The item inside the roller bag included a motor, wires and PVC pipes, which are all indicators of an improvised explosive device such as a pipe bomb.