8 O'Hare airport screeners suspendedCompiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times,
CHICAGO -- A Nepalese man was indicted Monday on a federal charge of trying to carry weapons onto an airplane, after airline workers caught him boarding a flight to Omaha this weekend with several knives, a stun gun and a can of pepper spray.
Eight employees of a private security company have been suspended for failing to detect the weapons in the man's carry-on bags at an earlier security checkpoint. The workers did find two other knives in his pockets.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta called the incident at O'Hare International Airport a "failure of dramatic dimensions," and threatened to levy a "substantial fine" against the carrier that hired the security company, United Airlines. United, in turn, said it had hired an auditor to monitor the private companies that handle screening of luggage and passengers, and stationed United managers at all security checkpoints at airports across the country.
The security company, Argenbright, issued a new policy requiring an immediate search of carry-on bags for anyone caught with suspicious items, a measure it said went beyond federal regulations.
Subash Bahadur Gurung, 27, was arrested by the FBI on Sunday evening at the airport while retrieving his luggage; he had been released by the Chicago Police Department the previous night.
The authorities do not suspect any connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. Officials said Gurung, who was headed to Omaha to visit a friend, is unemployed and itinerant and in the United States illegally. Held without bail, Gurung faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
"The investigation does not seem to reveal any illicit, nefarious, suspicious reason for his trip," said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.
An affidavit filed Monday said Gurung was stripped of two knives at a security checkpoint Saturday about 5:30 p.m., yet arrived at his gate with a bag full of weapons. At Gate C-5, the affidavit says, United workers doing a spot search looked into Gurung's duffel bag, fanny pack and a white plastic shopping bag, finding seven folding knives with blades up to four inches, along with a stun gun and a small container labeled tear gas/pepper spray.
Gurung had also checked two bags on an earlier flight to Omaha, which he apparently missed. Two knives were later found in those bags, according to the affidavit.
In an interview with a television station, Gurung said he had meant to put the knives, which he said he carried for his protection, in his checked baggage. "It was all a mistake," he said. "What the police are doing is the right thing."
D.C. victims' memorial
WASHINGTON -- On the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the 189 people who were the front-line victims at the Pentagon are to be remembered with the dedication of a permanent memorial somewhere on the exterior grounds of the military complex.
Government officials are just beginning to plan the process that will determine what and where that will be. The calendar will dictate many of their decisions, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has made clear their goal is less than a year away.
"We are in an abbreviated process," said Howard Moy, who works in the military programs management division of the Army Corps of Engineers and will shepherd the project.
Billboard gets makeover
BOSTON -- For the first time since it went up in 1995, the nation's largest billboard has changed its tune.
Until Monday, the 252-foot-long, 20-foot-high landmark sign along the Massachusetts Turnpike, near Fenway Park, had been devoted to messages opposing handgun violence. But in the wake of the attacks, owner John Rosenthal decided it was time to broaden the focus to victims of terrorism, young and old.
The new memorial billboard evokes the somber mood of the Vietnam War Memorial with roughly 850 victims' names printed in gray on a solid black background. All victims of the American and United Airlines flights and the Pentagon attack are listed. World Trade Center victims appear in alphabetical order to the letter G.
In larger, off-white lettering floating above the names, the billboard reads, "September 11 2001 ... and our flag was still there."
"Everything changed for America, and we felt it was appropriate to change our message as well," said Rosenthal, 45, co-founder and chair of Stop Handgun Violence, a nonprofit group.
Also . . .
FUNDING: The Bush administration announced the transfer of $902-million from a $40-billion fund established after the attacks. Most of the money will go to New York state and city, to help the city's economic recovery; and the U.S. Postal Service, to purchase devices to irradiate mail that may have been contaminated by anthrax, equipment to protect mail handlers and gear to test for anthrax.
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From the Times wire desk
From the AP