DOCUMENT: Bizarre, Crime

Woman Busted In Fear Of 9/11 Flying Scheme

FBI: Accused phoned in threats to derail kin's flight

SEPTEMBER 13--A New York woman who did not want her mother and brother flying around the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks allegedly called in two bomb threats Saturday in a bid to ground a Southwest Airlines flight on which her relatives were passengers, prosecutors allege.

Mary Purcell, 37, was arrested last night and charged with phoning in the bogus threats to the airport in Tucson, Arizona. During the calls, Purcell allegedly claimed that she “overheard her boyfriend and several others discussing a bomb plot targeting Southwest Airlines Flight 2475,” according to a criminal complaint sworn by FBI Agent James Lopez.

As a result of the threats, law enforcement officials--assisted by nine K-9 units--removed all of the baggage from the Boeing 737 and conducted a “thorough search of the aircraft and luggage, but no bomb was found,” reported Lopez, who added that “passengers were double-screened, the hand luggage was rechecked and swabbed for explosives.”

Agents traced the bomb threats to the Long Island home of Purcell’s mother. During an initial interview there Saturday afternoon, Purcell said that she had twice called Southwest’s customer service inquiring why Flight 2475 was delayed “and whether there was a terror bomb threat.”

In a follow-up interview Saturday evening, Purcell reportedly confessed that she had phoned in the bomb threats “because she did not want her mother and brother flying around the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks,” according to the U.S. District Court complaint.

Flight 2475 was traveling from Tucson to Albuquerque, New Mexico to Baltimore, Maryland, and then on to Long Island’s Islip Airport.

Purcell is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon on a federal felony count that carries a maximum prison term of 10 years. (4 pages)