Police arrest man with box cutters at Lambert Airport

Saturday, February 16, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- A New York man who tried to board a flight to Las Vegas while carrying two box cutters was arrested early Friday at Lambert Airport, federal authorities said.

Joubin Kalimian, 33, of Great Neck, N.Y., remains in custody after making an initial appearance late Friday in U.S. District Court on charges of attempting to carry on an aircraft a concealed, dangerous weapon.

"We currently have no reason to believe that this was an attempt to hijack the airplane or commit any terrorist-related activity," said U.S. Attorney Raymond Gruender.

Federal officials and airport police said Kalimian boarded American Airlines flight 2947 from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Las Vegas on Friday. When the airplane made a scheduled stop in St. Louis, Kalimian got off the plane along with other passengers.

When he attempted to reboard the flight to continue to Las Vegas, Kalimian was selected for a random security check at the gate, said airport director Leonard Griggs. During the check, around 8:30 a.m., two box cutters were discovered in a pocket of Kalimian's clothing, officials said.

Was in a hurry

According to Gruender's office, Kalimian later said he knew he was carrying the box cutters, but was in a hurry and had hoped they would not be found. He also told authorities a third box cutter had been found by a security screener in New York before he boarded the flight to St. Louis.

American and its security screening company at LaGuardia are investigating the incident and one security screener has been taken off duty for retraining, the company said in a statement.

Griggs said Kalimian, while off his plane, never left the secure concourse area at Lambert.

"FBI officials and airport police conducted a joint investigation determining that there had been no breach of security at Lambert," Griggs said in a statement.

Gruender's office said Kalimian is scheduled for a preliminary hearing next week. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

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