Namibia security alert due to mistake: device maker

20th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The US businessman whose firm made a dummy bomb that sparked an airport scare in Namibia said Saturday he thinks it was due to a mistake by a security trainer travelling with one of his devices.

Larry Copello, who runs a small family company making security testing devices in California, was visited Thursday by two FBI agents after being tracked by a label on the device, found at Windhoek airport.

He told them that the device -- designed to test screeners at airport and other security checkpoints -- was made four or five years ago by his company based in Sonora, east of San Francisco.

He could not identify the owner of the device found in Namibia, but suggested it may have been a security trainer who negligently checked it in with his luggage while flying, in this case from Windhoek to Munich, Germany.

"Years ago you could check your luggage into the hold of the plane without screening, and some of the security guys would do that because they didn't want to have issues with the checkpoint," he told AFP.

In the Namibian case the person carrying the device checked it in despite the fact that hold baggage is now screened as well.

"That's my own theory," Copello said. "Somebody dropped the ball and somebody got separated from their test device.

"I don't believe it was testing Africa, or Air Berlin or anything like that. I don't think it was that at all. I think it was just somebody made a mistake," he added.

The Air Berlin plane with 296 passengers and 10 crew members on board was delayed six hours after the security scare Wednesday, before being cleared for take-off to Munich, where it later arrived safely.

The find came one day after Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said that security services had received a tip from a "foreign partner" about an attack planned in Germany in the next two weeks.

The German government dispatched heavily armed officers at rail stations, airports and other public spaces and stepped up other security measures in the wake of the discovery.

© 2010 AFP

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