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Box Cutter Suspect In Court

airline security graphic
AP / CBS
College student Nathaniel Heatwole wanted to shine a spotlight on aviation security by putting banned items aboard planes, authorities say. Now, they are now putting him under the spotlight.

Heatwole, a 20-year-old junior at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., was expected to be the focus of a hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Monday.

FBI spokesman Bill Carter said the FBI had no other information on the proceedings and directed calls to the U.S. Attorney's office in Baltimore. Messages left with the U.S. Attorney's office Sunday weren't returned.

On Thursday night, Southwest Airlines maintenance workers found small plastic bags containing box cutters, bleach, matches and modeling clay in lavatory compartments on planes in New Orleans and Houston.

Notes in the bags "indicated the items were intended to challenge Transportation Security Administration checkpoint security procedures," according to a statement from Southwest Airlines.

A Bush administration official has said the suspected perpetrator last month sent the government an e-mail warning of his intention to conceal suspicious items on six planes and provided dates and locations for the plan.

The suspect was identified through a database search that linked the bags found on the planes to the e-mail, the Transportation Security Administration said.

The discovery triggered stepped-up inspections of the entire U.S. commercial air fleet — roughly 7,000 planes. But after consulting with the FBI, the TSA rescinded the inspection order.

No other such suspicious bags were found in the inspection.

The modeling clay found aboard the Southwest planes was made to look like an explosive, while the bleach could have been used to demonstrate how a corrosive or dangerous liquid could be smuggled aboard a plane.