Official: Stopped NY Flight Was False No-Fly Match
May 6, 2010 - 1:40 PMAuthorities detained two passengers aboard an Emirates airlines plane Thursday at New York's Kennedy Airport after spotting a name similar to one on the "no-fly" list, then released them after it was determined it was a false match, officials said.
The Dubai-bound Flight 204 had begun taxiing from the runway at 11:36 a.m. when customs officials spotted the passenger's name, top police spokesman Paul Browne said.
Authorities brought it back to the gate. A man and the woman were detained and taken off the flight but later were released and allowed back on the plane, two officials said. The plane then left at 12:51 p.m.
FBI spokesman James Margolin in New York said the callback of the airliner was a false alarm. An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the case, said there was no indication of a security threat.
Emirates airlines said in an e-mailed statement that it was cooperating with federal authorities and that two passengers were incorrectly identified by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but were later cleared by the agency.
The callback came less than a week after Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad managed to board an Emirates airliner at JFK despite being on the no-fly list. He was arrested on board, and since then the Obama administration has tightened the rules airlines must follow when using the no-fly list.
The administration official said he did not know what exactly prompted the callback of Thursday's flight. Because the passengers were already on board, it's likely that customs officials spotted a suspicious name when reviewing the final passenger list.
That layer of security is what led to the arrest of Faisal Shahzad in the Times Square case.
Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo in Washington and Colleen Long and Amy Westfeldt in New York contributed to this report.
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