MOGADISHU, (Reuters) – A Somali arrested while trying to board a Dubai-bound plane in November with a suspicious white powder, liquid and syringes is being held in the country’s main prison, a police source said on Thursday.
Security officials had initially thought the chemicals were for use in a scam to supposedly make U.S. dollars. But the botched attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound plane on Dec. 25 aroused suspicions the Somali may have had similar aims.
“The man who was arrested with the chemicals was transferred to the central prison. He has not yet been sentenced but he is in jail,” said a senior police officer who did not wish to be named.
Somalia, which has been without a central government for 18 years, does not have a reliable judiciary system and suspects often bribe their way out of prison sentences.
Attempts to install an effective central government have been greatly undermined by an insurgency led by al Shabaab, an Islamist group viewed by Washington as al Qaeda’s proxy in the region.