TSA Claims Victory for Arrest at Orlando Airport

By Matthew Harwood

The arrest of a man attempting to smuggle bomb-making materials onto a flight from Orlando, Florida, to Jamaica, can be attributed to the government's behavioral screening program, says the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Police grabbed Kevin Johnson, 32, an Iraq war veteran who recently worked as a contractor in Iraq, while he walked through a terminal at Orlando International Airport. Behavior detection officers operating under TSA's Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program had spotted his erratic behavior and requested his bags searched.

Inside his baggage, investigators found plenty of evidence necessary for Johnson's arrest. According to the Orlando Sentinel:

A luggage search ... turned up: - Two galvanized pipes. - End caps with holes drilled in them. - BBs. - A model-rocket igniter. - Batteries. - Lighter fluid. - A lighter. - Two vodka bottles with flammable nitromethane. - Instructions on making explosives.

Johnson's arrest affidavit says he wanted to show friends in Jamaica how to build pipe bombs similar to ones he came across in Iraq. Some media outlets (here and here) speculate Johnson's motivation was revenge. His mother was murdered in Jamaica in 2005 by employees of the hotel she co-owned.

TSA's Evolution of Security blog says what occurred Tuesday shows the value of behavior detection officers and TSA's layered approach to security.

This is an excellent example of the layers of security in action throughout the airport. This is also a good example of using specially trained Behavior Detection Officers to look for people with hostile intent as well as the items they intend to use. It's a further testament that the behavior detection program works ...

Johnson's family insists he is not a terrorist and that Johnson suffers from depression related to his service in Iraq and the murder of his mother.


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