Islamic Threat: Iranian National Arrested After Bomb Threat at Pittsburgh Airport (Video)
The recent bomb threat at Pittsburgh International Airport has sent shockwaves across the nation, with fears of terrorism rekindled and serious concerns about the security of America’s immigration system. Hossein Dehnavifard, a 37-year-old Iranian national, was arrested on May 10, 2023, after allegedly threatening to use a bomb at the airport. The incident occurred after he was refused entry on his American Airlines flight to Philadelphia for arriving late.
Hossein, a Senior Design Software Control Engineer at Komatsu Mining in Peoria, Illinois, has been in the United States for almost seven years. He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in Iran from 2004 to 2011. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town in South Africa from 2013 to 2016. He then did his Postdoctoral Scientist at the Tennessee Technological University from Feb 2017 – Oct 2018 for almost two years.
According to police, Hossein told American Airlines gate agents that his luggage contained a bomb after he was denied boarding his flight. At least two airline workers confirmed hearing the comment to the police. During an interview with police, Hossein said he arrived at the airport at about 1:30 p.m., passed through a security checkpoint, had some food, donned ear pods, and may have missed hearing the page call for his flight.
Police said Hossein went to the boarding gate at about 4:30 p.m. and was initially told he could proceed to his flight. However, he was later informed that he had missed his flight as the doors to the jetway had been shut. According to court documents, Hossein claims that he then asked two airline staff members, “What if I had a bomb in my bags?” while those staffers told police, Hossein
said, “I have a bomb in my bag.”
During an interview with CBS Pittsburgh, Hossein expressed his frustration about being denied entry to the plane, insisting that he had arrived on time. He also mentioned that this was not the first time the airline had “done this to him.”
The FBI and federal Transportation Security Administration workers responded to the scene and joined the investigation. Police said Hossein intended to fly to Iran. Instead, he was taken to the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh and is facing charges of terroristic threats and a threat to use weapons of mass destruction.
The situation resulted in more than 100 passengers on American Airlines flight 1862 being deboarded and the B-concourse being partially closed. The plane, an Airbus A319, was eventually searched by the Allegheny County Police officers and FBI agents, with the Allegheny County Police Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Team and EOD K-9 handlers utilizing police K-9s trained in the detection of explosive odor as well as x-ray machines to search the aircraft and luggage on board. Fortunately, no explosives were found on the plane or in Hossein’s two checked bags.
The FBI and the Transportation Security Administration are continuing their investigation, and TSA may impose a civil penalty, according to police. American Airlines at Pittsburgh International has since returned to normal operations.