In the more than two decades since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Transportation Security Administration has been tasked with rooting out potential threats at the nation’s airports. While travelers might not always appreciate the sometimes invasive techniques used at checkpoints, one agent’s diligence reportedly paid off earlier this week.
According to authorities, a 40-year-old man was attempting to board a jet at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania on Monday when a TSA agent spotted something unusual in his luggage.
A search of the checked bag’s lining revealed an item that law enforcement determined was an explosive device. The circular apparatus was reportedly packed with powder, wrapped in plastic and wax paper, and contained a pair of fuses.
The FBI was called in to investigate and, according to a criminal complaint, the powder was identified as “a mixture of flash powder and the dark granules that are used in commercial-grade fireworks.”
Those powders “are susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers,” authorities concluded.
Agents reported that he also had in his possession “a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries, and two GFCI outlets taped together with black tape.”
Officials locked down the airport and tracked down the suspect as experts investigated the device, concluding that it was a live explosive.
The suspect, Mark Muffley, was headed to Orlando, Florida, but was taken into federal custody from the airport in Allentown. His initial court appearance was scheduled for Thursday. He is facing criminal charges including possession of an explosive in an airport.
Bomb found stashed in checked luggage at Lehigh Valley International Airport https://t.co/JDqeUWtdfV pic.twitter.com/RVsgpzosBf
— New York Post (@nypost) March 2, 2023
TSA Federal Security Director Karen Keys-Turner celebrated the “highly trained and highly skilled professionals” in the agency who help keep airline passengers safe.
In response to Muffley’s arrest, she added: “This is an example of how the strong partnerships we have established with the airport authority, FBI, and local law enforcement came together to ensure the safety and security of the traveling public. I commend our entire TSA team at Lehigh Valley International Airport and the professional manner in which this incident was handled.”