A Pennsylvania man has been busted after trying to load luggage containing an explosive device on a commercial jet in his home state and fleeing the airport after it was discovered.
Explosives Plus Other Suspicious Items
The somewhat bizarre incident occurred at Lehigh Valley International Airport after the suspect, 40-year-old Mark Muffley, checked a piece of baggage with an explosive device.
Once the explosives were detected and Muffley was ordered through the loudspeakers to report to airport security, he escaped and went back to his house in Lanford, Pennsylvania.
That was where he was arrested by FBI agents, The Daily Wire reported. The explosive device that Muffley tried to get on board a commercial airplane had a diameter of three inches and was inside a plastic bag, wrapped in wax-like paper.
Experts established later that it contained power typically found in commercial-grade fireworks, a mix of dark granular and flash powder, according to the criminal complaint against Muffley.
The document makes it clear that the device “posed a significant risk” to the plane and its passengers since its components could easily ignite from friction and heat.
Besides the actual explosives, the Pennsylvania man’s airplane luggage also contained a lighter, a can of butane, a wireless drill, and a pipe with traces of white powder, among others.
Bomb experts and FBI agents were called up Lehigh Valley International Airport after airport security discovered the explosives at about 11 am on Monday.
The airport’s terminal where the problematic bag was detected remained closed for around three hours until it was cleared to be reopened around 2 pm.
Federal authorities say a Pennsylvania man was aware he had a prohibited explosive in a suitcase that he checked at an airport this week. https://t.co/Ddcnzjetcc
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 3, 2023
The FBI says a passenger at an airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania checked in a suitcase with an explosive device hidden inside the lining.@DannyEFreeman has the details: pic.twitter.com/YMd8G0N37r
— CNN This Morning (@CNNThisMorning) March 2, 2023
A Pennsylvania man admitted packing explosive materials, fuses and a lighter in a suitcase he checked for a commercial flight to Florida and fled the Lehigh Valley airport when he feared arrest, federal authorities said in a court document filed Thursday. https://t.co/3ehATHjS59
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 3, 2023
Serious Risk to Passengers and Aircraft
The federal criminal complaint against Muffley contains two charges against him – one over the possession of explosives in an airport and the second over the attempted placing of explosives on an aircraft.
A hearing held on Thursday fir Muffley’s case saw a federal judge ordering him to be kept in custody pending trial, CNN reported.
The judge declared the Pennsylvania man was a flight risk and dangerous to the community. During the hearing, the suspect didn’t enter a plea. The report reveals the explosives in Muffley’s bag were detected automatically and an airport alarm went off.
The suspect had checked his baggage on Flight 201 which was going to Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida. After Muffley didn’t show up when ordered through the airport telecom, security footage showed he had left in a hurry.
After that, the FBI got in touch with the chief detective in Carbon County, who happened to know Muffley personally and confirmed his address. The potential wannabe aircraft terrorist was then busted without any incidents the same evening in his Lansford, Pennsylvania, home.
Jonathan McDonald, Muffley’s lawyer, argued during Thursday’s court hearing that the charges against his client were excessive since the device in his bag didn’t meet the legal definitions mentioned in the charges.
Court records show that Muffley faced over half a dozen charges of petty crime such as minor theft, drug possession, and harassment.
The FBI says a man tried to smuggle an explosive device onto a passenger plane at Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley International Airport. The suspect is in custody. @TrevorLAult has details. https://t.co/BLo13SfsFZ pic.twitter.com/B5NesrVgS8
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) March 2, 2023
Agents said Marc Muffley's bag had a "circular compound" with powder used in commercial-grade fireworks, with a pair of fuses were attached to the device.
His bags also had butane, a lighter and two GFCI outlets that served as a circuit breaker. https://t.co/N2R6NY0m0t
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 2, 2023