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Regional & National

Man detained at Kansas City airport with suspicious items

September 11th, 2011 5:03 pm by BILL DRAPER

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Security agents detained a man and shut down one of three terminals at the main airport in Kansas City Sunday after detecting suspicious items inside his carry-on bag on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The man was stopped about 9:30 a.m. at the Southwest Airlines checkpoint at Kansas City International Airport. Transportation security agents who detected suspicious items in his bag asked to examine them, and he was detained when he refused, airline and law enforcement officials said.

The suspicious items tested negative for explosive materials, according to a statement from the Transportation Security Administration. A bomb squad and bomb-sniffing dogs remained on the scene Sunday afternoon, and passengers were being rescreened.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton declined to say what the man was carrying, but she said a package was "disrupted in such a way to preserve" evidence by the bomb squad. The man is the custody of airport security, she said.

TSA released a statement confirming the area around the checkpoint was evacuated "out of an abundance of caution." Several TSA officials did not respond to calls requesting more details Sunday. Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, referred questions to the TSA.

"It was chaos," said Jim Johnston, 56, an engineer from Portland, Ore., who was on his way to Nashville, Tenn., for business. "We weren't told anything except there was a scare. They took us to a concourse that was under construction and we waited there 10 to 15 minutes while they tried to figure out what they were going to do with us."

The man was detained as ceremonies were going on nationwide in remembrance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Four planes hijacked by nineteen men crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Early indications were that the incident did not appear to be connected to terrorism, but the investigation was continuing and there had been no official determination, according to a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.

Airport spokesman Joe McBride said the airport had heightened security since Thursday because of the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks but there was no known threat involving the airport.

He described the customer, a white man in his 50s, as "belligerent" and said he had multiple carry-on bags.

The parking lot for the terminal where Southwest is located and portions of the terminal that were closed reopened about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, McBride said. Passengers at the busy airport had been rerouted through one security checkpoint, creating long lines and worries among some that they would miss their flights.

Southwest was continuing operations from other gates at the airport, McBride said.

Other than delays caused by closing the checkpoint for a few hours, no flights were affected, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said.

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Associated Press writers Jeffrey McMurray in Chicago and Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.

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