Monday, February 1, 2010

LA JUNTA, Colo. | An Amtrak passenger who is suspected of talking about terrorist threats on a cell phone was pulled from a train in Colorado and faces a felony charge of endangering public transportation.

Ojore Nuru Lutalo, 64, who was recently released from prison, was arrested Tuesday on an Amtrak passage from Los Angeles to Chicago. Passengers on the train told authorities that they heard the man mention al Qaeda and make threats in a cell phone conversation.

Mr. Lutalo, freed Thursday on $30,000 bond and now in Denver, denies mentioning al Qaeda or making any threats.

“I know better than to make bomb threats,” said Mr. Lutalo, from Elizabeth, N.J. “I never made a threat against Amtrak. I looking to beat these charges because they have no foundation.”

Mr. Lutalo’s next court date on the state charge is in Otero County District Court on Friday. FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright said the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Colorado Springs was notified but that no federal charges were expected.

Police said in an affidavit that passengers overheard Mr. Lutalo saying he hadn’t killed anyone yet, and that he talked about going to jail.

Passengers told authorities that the man said, “We have to work in small groups. They can hold you for 18 months. Do they have security on these trains? Are you with me or not?”

One passenger said he heard Mr. Lutalo mention al Qaeda, saying, “17th-century tactics won’t work; we have 21st-century tactics.”

The conductor said Mr. Lutalo had a tan blanket over his entire body so the conductor could not see what he was doing.

Mr. Lutalo was arrested at the La Junta train station in southeastern Colorado. Police said he was not armed or carrying explosives. He was carrying propaganda for an anarchist group called Afrikan Liberation Army.

Mr. Lutalo was released in August from a New Jersey prison after serving a 27-year term for aggravated assault, robbery and two counts of weapons possession. New Jersey authorities said Mr. Lutalo also has used the name Leroy Bunting.

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