- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2001

Iranian denied bail over airplane ruckus

LOS ANGELES An Iranian man, who authorities say threatened to “kill all Americans” when he was caught smoking on an international flight, was ordered held without bail yesterday after a prosecutor argued his actions threatened thousands of lives.

Two Air Force F-16 jets escorted the Boeing 767 back to Los Angeles International Airport less than an hour after the passenger jet had departed Thursday afternoon for Toronto.

Javid Naghani was not only a threat to the 145 persons aboard the Air Canada flight but to people on the ground in Los Angeles, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Rubinstein said in federal court. Mr. Naghani was charged with one count of interfering with a flight crew. Judge Magistrate Jennifer Lum set a preliminary hearing for Oct. 15.

Flight attendants told the captain “they were intimidated, fearful and unwilling to deal with Naghani, and that Naghani needed to be removed from the aircraft,” FBI Agent David Beall said.

Bahraini princess to return to family

LAS VEGAS The Bahraini princess who fled her homeland to marry a U.S. Marine is returning home because her family fears for her safety in America, the couple's attorney said yesterday.

“She just told me she was going back. Her mother is concerned,” attorney Jeff Conway said.

Meriam Al-Khalifa Johnson, 20, was spirited from her Islamic monarchy in November 1999 by Jason Johnson. Mr. Conway said at some point she and her family began speaking again and her parents expressed concern in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Muslims and Arab-Americans have complained of assaults, vandalism and other discrimination since the attacks.

Mr. Conway said Mrs. Al-Khalifa Johnson has been in Washington since Thursday, coordinating her trip home, and may have already left for Bahrain.

A message left on the couple's answering machine was not immediately returned last night. Mr. Conway said he did not know whether the couple was separating.

Prisoners captured after escape

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Two maximum-security prisoners with homemade knives overpowered guards and escaped yesterday morning as they headed to a hearing on a prior escape. They were captured a few hours later.

Lyle Van Ulzen, 35, and Billy Coffelt, 47, fled as they were being escorted through an underground tunnel from the city jail to the courthouse.

They were captured a few blocks away and did not resist arrest, police spokesman Don Aaron said.

Van Ulzen, a convicted murderer, pulled a knife on one guard and ordered him to remove their waist chains, leg irons and handcuffs, while demanding that the other two guards stay back, police spokesman Don Aaron said. Coffelt, convicted of armed robbery, also had a knife, authorities said. The guards were not carrying weapons.

New York probes theft of scrap metal

NEW YORK Authorities in New York said yesterday they were investigating whether criminals looted the ruins of the World Trade Center, diverting scrap metal still considered evidence in the Sept. 11 attacks.

New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said a Manhattan grand jury was reviewing evidence that organized crime families took tons of steel and other metals to three area dumps two in New Jersey and one in Long Island instead of the official site on Staten Island.

“There is an ongoing investigation being conducted by the organized crime control bureau and the trade waste commission,” Mr. Kerik told a news conference.

“We believe [the scrap metal] was taken directly from the site,” he said.

Mob families in New York and New Jersey have long been linked to corruption in the local garbage disposal industry.

Mr. Kerik gave no further details but the New York Post yesterday reported more than 250 tons of crime-scene material was diverted.

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