New York: An Indian documentary film maker has been arrested at the Houston airport for allegedly carrying suspicious Islamic jihad literature, brass knuckles and USD 10,000 in cash.
40-year-old Vijay Kumar was arrested at George Bush Intercontinental airport on Friday after "acting suspicious," when screeners thought they saw a possible handgun in a scan of his baggage.
Investigators found the brass knuckles, a manual for a handgun and Islamic literature in Kumar's checked luggage.
State District Judge David Mendoza yesterday lowered Kumar's bail from USD 50,000 to USD 5,000 after learning more details about the case and that prosecutors were willing to let him plead to time served for unlawfully carrying a weapon in an airport.
Kumar was in Houston to lecture a Hindu organization about Islamic fundamentalism and the books packed in his checked luggage were educational tools, authorities and his lawyer told the court.
Attorneys for Kumar said that he has surrendered his passport while he mulls the deal. He does not want a criminal record to interfere next time he visits the US, his attorney Grant Scheiner said.
"I think that everybody realised that he is not a threat. He's a peaceful man," Scheiner said.
"He was here to visit the Hindu Congress of America, to deliver a lecture. It was about an interfaith discussion between Hindus and Muslims about the harms of terrorism." Scheiner said Kumar, who speaks very little English, carries the brass knuckles for protection in India.
When Kumar was pulled aside for secondary screening, after raising suspicion with Transportation Security Administration 'behavioural detection officers,' even more alarm was raised by what was found.
The title of one book was "Spycraft" and another was titled "New Voices of Islam" and police noticed mentions of "infidels" in some of the writings that could be made out clearly, the Houston Chronicle reported.
"It definitely raised our concerns," said one law enforcement official involved in the arrest.
"Not your everyday passenger would have this sort of stuff and it definitely poses a concern for anyone involved in airport security," he said.
The books and radical material was found in stacks, packed in Kumar's carry-on luggage, according to the police report.
Officers also found a pair of brass-knuckles in the luggage he had checked with his airline to be carried in the cargo hold of the aircraft.