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Europe

Dutch police hold two terror suspects at Amsterdam airport

Prosecutors in the Netherlands said two men of Yemeni descent were arrested at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on Tuesday for questioning after US security found a mobile phone taped to a bottle in their luggage.

Amsterdam's Schiphol airport

The men were detained upon landing at Schiphol

Two men were arrested in Amsterdam on Tuesday, after US authorities warned staff at Schiphol airport that suspicious materials had been found in their luggage.

"The men are held in custody on suspicion of a conspiracy to commit a terrorist criminal act," Amsterdam prosecutor's office spokesman Theo d'Anjou told reporters at the airport.

The luggage, however, was not found on the plane from Chicago to Amsterdam that the men were on, but rather on a different domestic flight within the US.

"The luggage of the men had ended up on an internal flight to Washington," said d'Anjou, adding that "in this luggage mobile phones were found, taped, one phone was taped to a plastic bottle. These phones were seized in the US and stayed there," he said.

Test of counter measures, or misunderstanding?

The US broadcaster ABC identified the men as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi, of Detroit, Michigan, and Hezam al-Murisi, both of Yemeni descent.

Dutch counterterrorism expert Edwin Bakker said it was possible the incident may have been "a test of the counterterrorism measures in place" at Schiphol.

A map of Yemen

Both of the men are of Yemeni descent

"The fact that they did not take the same flight as their luggage is a good reason to interrogate them," he added. "It is very strange."

The White House promised on Tuesday that US authorities would conduct a "vigorous investigation" into the incident, which has been assessed by many officials as a potential "dry run" for a terrorist attack.

However, the possibility of a misunderstanding has not yet been ruled out.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told US news broadcaster CNN that intelligence and law enforcement officials were piecing together the events, adding that neither of the arrested men was on US surveillance lists.

"They went through some extra screening," he said. "Their bags were pulled off of a flight because they were not on that flight. Now obviously the next step is getting some answers to why those curious circumstances happened in the first place."

A Dutch judge will have to decide by late on Thursday whether to charge the men or release them. Under Dutch law, police can hold suspects for up to 72 hours without charge.

Author: Gabriel Borrud
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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