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Passenger's suspicious claim diverts jet to MainePassenger's claim of implanted device diverts trans-Atlantic flight to Maine airport
BANGOR, Maine (AP) ' A US Airways jet traveling from Paris to North Carolina was diverted to Maine on Tuesday after a French passenger handed a note to a flight attendant mentioning that she had a surgically implanted device, raising security concerns, officials said.
An examination by doctors aboard the plane found that the passenger, a French citizen born in Cameroon, had no scars, said U.S. Rep. Peter King, who was briefed on the matter. The woman was traveling alone without any checked baggage and intended to stay in the U.S. for 10 days, he said.
The FBI and Homeland Security Department warned airlines last summer that terrorists are considering surgically hiding bombs inside humans to evade airport security. In 2010, it was reported that British officials uncovered intelligence that al-Qaida was seeking to surgically implant bombs inside people.
Two F-15 fighters scrambled to escort Flight 787 with 179 passengers and nine crew members to Bangor International Airport, where it landed shortly after noon Tuesday.
Tony Caruso, acting airport manager, told reporters that the passenger was "unruly" and was removed after the jet taxied to a remote part of the airport.
The jetliner was about 40 minutes from Bangor when local officials were alerted, Caruso said. The remaining passengers from the Boeing 767 were kept in a secure area in the airport before being allowed back onto the jet, which departed 3 hours later for Charlotte, N.C.
The Transportation Security Administration issued a statement saying it was aware that the passenger exhibited suspicious behavior during the flight.
"Out of an abundance of caution, the flight was diverted to (Bangor) where it was met by law enforcement," said TSA spokesman Sterling Payne.
The plane was met by state, local and federal law enforcement officers when it landed in Bangor, FBI spokesman Greg Comcowich said. Caruso said the passenger was in FBI custody.
The Bangor airport is accustomed to dealing with diverted flights.
It's the first large U.S. airport for incoming European flights and the last U.S. airport for outgoing flights, with uncluttered skies and one of the longest runways on the East Coast. Aircraft use the airport when there are mechanical problems, medical emergencies or unruly passengers.
Associated Press writers Eileen Sullivan in Washington, Denise Lavoie in Boston, and David Sharp and Clarke Canfield in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.
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