US Botany Professor Detained in Cairo Airport with Cache of Weapons

Terminal 1, Cairo Airport; Wikimedia Commons

An Egyptian-American man was detained at Cairo International Airport earlier this week, when customs officials found a cache of weapons including two 9 mm handguns, 250 rounds of ammunition, two swords, 5 daggers and 6 knives in his checked luggage.

Mohammed Ibrahim, a professor of botany at a university in the United States, was detained Tuesday night after he had arrived on an Egypt Air flight originating at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Officials reportedly checked Ibrahim's luggage after they saw him "behaving nervously" as he waited to pass through customs. The weapons were found hidden in metal boxes and secret compartments throughout the luggage, an Egyptian official told the AFP on condition of anonymity.

American officials have said that there was no security lapse. Packing weapons in checked luggage is legal in the United States if properly declared to the airline, however passengers traveling abroad are required by US law to verify the rules in practice at their destination.

"Transporting firearms within the US in checked baggage is permitted if properly declared to the airline," the TSA said in a statement. "Many other countries have different laws that address transportation and possession of firearms. We recommend passengers traveling internationally check with the authorities at their destination about their requirements."

Ibrahim failed to declare the two handguns, according to the TSA.

The TSA searches checked luggage for explosives, but not firearms, which are out of reach to passengers during the flight and pose no in-flight security risk. The TSA notifies the proper airlines if any guns or ammunition are improperly packed.

Egyptian prosecutors have confirmed that Ibrahim was transferred to a state security prosecutor for further investigation.
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