What did Mark Muffley do? Suspect arrested as explosive found in luggage at Pennsylvania airport

Muffley
Muffley's motive remains unconfirmed (image via Pennsylvania Airport Security Surveillance)

On Monday, February 27, 40-year-old Pennsylvania man Mark Muffley was arrested for allegedly attempting to sneak a bomb onto a flight from Lehigh Valley International Airport to Florida.

Trigger warning: This story contains references to explosives

As per WPVI-TV, Mark Muffley came under suspicion at approximately 11 am after the TSA discovered the explosives in his check-in luggage, which was bound for Orlando, Florida. After screening the suitcase, TSA agents sent out an alert in an attempt to arrest him.

Muffley was accused of fleeing the scene before he was arrested that night at his house.

After the explosives were discovered, the airport was placed under lockdown for three hours before it was reopened at 2 pm. Mark Muffley's motive remains unknown.


Authorities describe the accusations against Mark Muffley

In the criminal complaint, Florida authorities summed up the discovery of the explosive device.

The complaint read:

"(The) powder is suspected to be a mixture of flash powder and the dark granulars that are used in commercial grade fireworks. The black powder and flash powder are susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers."

It continued:

"A can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries, and two GFCI outlets taped together with black tape."

According to ABC News, Muffley has been charged with possession of an explosive in an airport, as well as possessing or attempting to have placed an explosive or incendiary device on an aircraft.

His first court date is scheduled for March 2.


Dealing with terrorist threats at American airports

In an official press release, the TSA noted that they are taking considerable measures to screen passengers for potential threats of terrorism. The organization stated that terrorists utilize advanced methods to smuggle in explosives, including the use of liquid explosives, as well as the concealment of explosives in electronic devices.

NPR reported that security measures clamped down considerably after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Jeff Price, an assistant security director at Denver International Airport, said that before the attacks, airport security was almost non-existent by today's standards.

Price said:

"Before 9/11, security was almost invisible, and it was really designed to be that way. It was designed to be something in the background that really wasn't that noticeable and definitely did not interfere with aircraft or airport operations."

He continued:

"You could walk up to the gate at the very last minute. You did not have to have a boarding pass. All you had to do was go through the security checkpoint — no questions asked, no ID needed."

While Mark Muffley's arrest signals that the vigilance of TSA officials will continue to be rewarded, it remains unclear whether or not he is associated with any larger terror organizations.

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Edited by Prem Deshpande