Bogus boarding pass arrest latest security gaffe

LOS ANGELES - A Nigerian-American U.S. citizen without a passport and clutching another traveler's expired boarding pass made it through a New York airport federal security checkpoint and boarded a Virgin America jetliner to Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said Thursday.

The incident has raised questions about the effectiveness of airport and airline screening procedures in place since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Days later, Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi tried to board a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta with another expired pass and was arrested and charged with being a stowaway aboard an aircraft, the FBI said.

He could face up to five years in prison if convicted, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

He's expected to appear in a Los Angeles federal courtroom on Friday.

Though Noibi is of Nigerian heritage, his citizenship had initially been unclear. But an FBI official confirms to CBS News correspondent Bob Orr that Noibi is a U.S., born in Iowa. He spent much of his life in Nigeria and claims he is a Nigerian citizen as well, although that could not immediately be confirmed, in part because he claims to have lost his Nigerian passport.

So going forward we should probably identify him as a US citizen of Nigerian heritage.

Investigators say Noibi, whose age hasn't been released, boarded Virgin America Flight 415 at John F. Kennedy International Airport last Friday night. The flight crew didn't realize an extra passenger was onboard until mid-flight. Noibi's name wasn't on the flight manifest.

In an affidavit, FBI Agent Kevin Hogg said Noibi sat in a seat that was supposed to be empty. Flight attendants asked him for a boarding pass and he presented one that was a day old and had someone else's name on it.

"Every passenger that passes through security checkpoints is subject to many layers of security including thorough physical screening at the checkpoint," Transportation Security Administration spokesman Greg Soule said. "TSA's review of this matter indicates that the passenger went through screening."

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Eimiller said the Virgin America flight crew asked law enforcement to meet the plane on arrival early Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport.

CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports that Noibi made no threats and was carrying no weapons so the flight crew determined it was safe to fly on to L.A.

Hogg met the flight and detained and questioned Noibi.

"He wasn't arrested at that time. Beyond traveling without a ticket there was no immediate threat," Eimiller said.

Noibi told the FBI he was in L.A. to recruit people for his software business, Orr reports. He claimed he'd simply found the unused boarding pass and admitted not buying a ticket.

Agents then traced the boarding pass to its rightful owner who confirmed that he'd lost the boarding pass on a New York subway and simply had printed another one at an airport kiosk.

When the FBI found no apparent connections to terror, Noibi was turned loose. He spent several days in Southern California before returning to the Los Angeles airport on Wednesday, when he tried to board a Delta flight bound for Atlanta. The FBI said he again presented an expired boarding pass and had no valid identification.

A search of his bag found 10 expired boarding passes, none of them with his name.

Noibi was then arrested.

  • Bob Orr

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