The two men who removed a pressure cooker from a suitcase in Chelsea and perhaps accidentally deactivated it last month were apparently in-flight security officers for EgyptAir.
The Times reports that the men, Hassan Ali and Abou Bakr Radwan, were in New York on the evening of September 17th after flying in on the airline. They were caught on security taking the pressure cooker, which had allegedly been placed there by New Jersey resident Ahmad Khan Rahami, out of the suitcase before taking the bag with them. Though Rahami had allegedly left several bombs in Manhattan and in New Jersey, all of which detonated, authorities think Ali and Radwan actually deactivated the bomb they found.
Investigators had been attempting to find the two men in the wake of last month's bombing, but when no one came forward with information about them, they began to believe they were tourists who had eventually left the country. It turns out they are instead security officers for the Cairo-based airline. An official with the airline told the times that Ali and Radwan saw the suitcase and "thought it was nice," so they decided to take it. They apparently believed the pressure cooker was a pot. "You know, we see things left on the street in New York all the time," the official told the paper. "Stuff no one wants. It’s normal to take them."
Neither Ali nor Radwan knew they were wanted for questioning until they arrived back in Egypt, and officials with EgyptAir deny the duo were at all involved with the bombings. "These guys are harmless; they would be useless in a fist fight," another airline official told the paper. "They are shocked and scared now. Radwan is especially scared. The poor guy is always anxious."
When the Times called Radwan yesterday, he told them he "cannot say anything," and directed them to a spokesperson for the company.
Rahami, who is still hospitalized in Newark after being wounded in a gunfight with police, has retained an attorney with the ACLU.