Three People Removed from New York-Dubai Flight

DUBAI

US officials halted a New York-Dubai flight just before takeoff before removing three people, an airline said after a suspect in an attempted New York bombing was arrested trying to fly to the Gulf emirate.

“Emirates can confirm that its flight EK 202 (from New York to Dubai on May 3)… was called back by the local authorities prior to departure. Three passengers were removed from the flight,” Emirates Airlines said.

“Full security procedures were activated, including the deplaning of all passengers and a thorough screening of the aircraft, passengers, and baggage. Emirates is cooperating with the local authorities,” it said in a statement.

The three passengers were escorted from the aircraft by “US authorities,” a spokeswoman for the carrier, which is based in the Gulf city-state, told Agence France-Presse without elaborating.

US officials said earlier that a Pakistani-American suspect in an attempted car bombing on Saturday in New York’s Times Square was arrested while trying to flee on flight from New York to Dubai.

New York police chief Raymond Kelly has said more than one person may have been involved in the attempted bombing, but offered no specifics.

The bomb failed to go off, and police flooded the area, shutting down entire blocks, evacuating thousands and preventing many tourists from getting back to their hotels or to Broadway shows.

A statement from US law enforcement officials said the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, was taken into custody around 11:45 pm Monday “for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1, 2010.”

According to Emirates’ website, the EK 202 flight was scheduled to depart at 2300 EDT Monday (0300 GMT on Tuesday), but did not take off until about 0612 EDT Tuesday (1100 GMT).

News reports said Shahzad, 30, lived in Connecticut and had recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan including the city of Peshawar, a known jumping-off point for Al-Qaeda and Taliban recruits.

ABC News said officials tracked Shahzad over two days using evidence found in the Nissan Pathfinder left at the scene and the unexploded bomb components.

ABC reported that, according to authorities, Shahzad bought the vehicle in which the bomb was placed one week before the bombing attempt, paying US$1,300 in cash for the vehicle in $100 bills.

Part of the probe centered on two people captured on film leaving the scene late on Saturday, the New York police chief said.

New York has been on constant watch for potential attacks since the September 11, 2001, airliner attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, killing almost 3,000 people.

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