MOGADISHU, Somalia – In a setback for U.S. investigators probing links to the attempted attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, a Somali official said Thursday that another suspect who tried to board a plane with chemicals already had been freed.
His release earlier this month will hamper efforts to learn if the incident in Mogadishu was linked to the attempted attack against the U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day. Terrorism analysts had said the arrest in Somalia could prove highly valuable to the U.S. investigation.
Somali Police Commissioner Gen. Ali Hassan Loyan said a Somali court released the suspect Dec. 12 after ruling that officials hadn’t demonstrated he intended to commit a crime. The man, whose name has not been released, said the chemicals were for processing camera film.
The Somali case drew little attention before the attempted attack on the U.S.-bound plane. The Homeland Security Department did not learn of the November incident at Mogadishu’s international airport until Wednesday, when U.S. officials began investigating for links between it and the Detroit case.
A Nairobi-based diplomat said the incident has similarities to the attempted attack on the Detroit-bound plane. The Somali was said to have a syringe, liquid and powdered chemicals – tools similar to those used by the Nigerian suspect on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.