Attempt to get fake bomb on Phoenix flight stopped by TSA

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
Luwiza Laku Daman By Jennifer Thomas Luwiza Laku Daman By Jennifer Thomas
Shullu Gorado By Jennifer Thomas Shullu Gorado By Jennifer Thomas
Shani Asa By Jennifer Thomas Shani Asa By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Authorities arrested three refugees after one of them allegedly tried to take a fake bomb onto a plane at Sky Harbor International Airport.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. Friday, Luwiza Laku Daman, 51, began walking through the security gate at Terminal 3 and placed her carry-on bag onto the X-ray machine.

A Transportation Security Administration employee noticed an item that looked like an improvised explosive device inside the bag, according to Sgt. Steve Martos with the Phoenix Police Department.

Officials shut down the checkpoint area and the Phoenix Police Department's bomb squad and the Phoenix Fire Department's Hazardous Materials crews were called to the scene.

Upon closer inspection, it appeared that the item consisted of a paste-like substance in a plastic container with a cell phone taped to the top of it.

Bomb squad officers determined it was not an explosive device.

"We're approaching the 10-year anniversary of 9/11," Martos said. "We are certainly cognizant of that date and our awareness is a little more heightened because of that and so we're taking this seriously."

Daman told Homeland Security detectives that she had obtained the item from a friend. Daman said Shullu Gorado had asked her to take the item on the plane and give it to another individual in Des Moines, Iowa, which was her destination.

Officers arrested Gorado, 25, Friday evening at an apartment complex near 19th Avenue and Camelback Road.

Gorado told police that he obtained the object from another person and admitted giving it to Daman to take on the plane with her.

The third person, identified as Shani Asa, 34, was arrested Monday afternoon at his home near 41st Avenue and Osborn Road. Martos said Asa admitted to attaching the cell phone to the container and giving it to Gorado.

All three suspects are African refugees and have been booked with having a hoax device and conspiracy to obtain a hoax device.

Police are going to have the substance tested to find out exactly what it was. Officials are still investigating the hoax device's origin, purpose and destination.

According to court paperwork, investigators were concerned that the suspects might have been testing airport security protocol, but that has not been confirmed.

Martos said the incident is the first of its kind at Sky Harbor.