In addition, officials said, al Soofi was found to be carrying $7,000 in cash and a check of his luggage found a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together, several watches taped together, a box cutter and three large knives. Officials said there was no indication of explosives and he and his luggage were cleared for the flight from Birmingham to Chicago O'Hare.One of these guys came out of Memphis, by the way. The other boarded in Birmingham and they found the weird stuff, then let it fly with him (in the checked baggage stow) to ORD.
There was no real threat since they had already inspected the paraphernalia before initial takeoff but it seems likely somebody dropped the ball in Chicago by letting the bag fly to Washington without its owner, whereupon someone else at Dulles let the aircraft actually taxi away from the gate heading to Dubai before realizing they had a rogue bag and called it back to remove the bag. All this after they had discovered the weirdness in Birmingham.
So what's going on? Pure speculation, but other than a dry run/system test perhaps it was designed to knee-jerk more punitive federal restrictions on the flying public, whether they be inspections for cash during scanning or prohibiting the carrying of cell phones and antacid in checked baggage. Such is a form of jihad as well.
The travel routing was probably symbolic as well. They boarded in two southern cities, neither known for being terrorism hubs, then met in Chicago and had tickets for a flight that passed over Washington, DC before terminating in Yemen. The flight they actually boarded went to Amsterdam, the same airport Abdulmuttalob passed through unmolested on Christmas.
Now, if Bush were still in power the reality-based community would already be speculating that these guys secretly worked for Halliburton and were trying to tilt the mid-terms for the GOP using the fear card. But today, in 2010, the fever swamps are defending Islam due to the mosque situation.
By the way, none of the stories so far have mentioned the mens' religion. Not saying they should be, but when the Michigan Hutaree militia members were picked up in March most all the stories mentioned their connection to Christianity. Here's the paper of record using the term "apocalyptic Christian militants". Just sayin'.