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Saudi Arabian posing as pilot held at Manila airport

First Posted 19:24:00 01/12/2010

MANILA, Philippines?A 19-year-old Saudi Arabian man dressed as a pilot was arrested Tuesday after he illegally entered a restricted area in the main airport in the Philippines, an airport official said.

"He was able to elude our security by misrepresenting himself as a pilot of Saudia," said airport general manager Alfonso Cusi, referring to the Saudi Arabian flag carrier.

The incident at Manila airport comes after officials in the Philippines and around the world said they would boost security after the botched attempt to blow up a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

The detained Saudi, identified by the local authorities as Hani Abdulelah Bukhari, told airport police he was there to meet his father, a retired Saudia pilot who later arrived on a flight from Saudi Arabia.

He was wearing a pilot's uniform from Saudia Airlines when airport security personnel noticed him lining up at the immigration section of the passenger terminal, Cusi told ABS-CBN television.

The young man produced a card identifying him as a dependent of a retired Saudia employee, he said.

"There was a failure on our part here," said Cusi, conceding that Bukhari should not have been able to penetrate so far into the terminal.

"Our fault here is we were not able to check properly his identification," he said, adding: "Definitely, there will be changes" in airport security procedures.

An airport report on the incident said Bukhari was enrolled at a local flying school. The school said however, that he was not a student although his two brothers were.

Bukhari arrived in the Philippines in November, Cusi said, but his status is not known.

Most of the 19 hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001 were Saudi nationals.


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