A Saudi Arabian man living in Tampa is being held without bond after being arrested June 4 for attempting to board a US Airways flight carrying a concealed weapon. Raed Abdul-Rahman Alsaif was trying to fly to Phoenix.
According to a criminal complaint by Gregory J. Mertiz, Special Agent with the Transportation Security Administration in Tampa, Alsaif submitted three bags for screening to TSA officers. A Transportation Security Officer saw a large butcher knife inside one of the bags. The knife was "artfully concealed between the outside fabric and the expandable pull handles of the bag," the complaint said, and the weapon was stored in a way that would have been "accessible to him [Alsaif] in flight."
Alsaif initially was arrested for violating state concealed weapon laws. He told police a friend gave him the bag and he didn't know there was a knife inside it. Police questioned the friend, who said that the bag wasn't his and that he had not given Alsaif a bag or a knife.
Raed Alsaif is a 2003 graduate of the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) in Alexandria, Virginia, the same high school that was the subject of a report in June 2008 by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which alleged that ISA was using radical Saudi textbooks. According to the report, passages in the textbooks used at ISA justify violent actions and intolerance to the reader including killing Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, apostates (converts from Islam) and adulterers. School officials say they have deleted the offending passages.
In 2003, the same year that Alsaif graduated from ISA, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a U.S. citizen and ISA graduate and valedictorian was arrested in Medina, Saudi Arabia on terrorism related charges. In 2005, Ali was convicted on nine counts including providing material resources to Al-Qaeda and conspiracy to assassinate President George W. Bush. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Alsaif has been previously arrested on drug charges and driving without a license in Hillsborough County.
In addition to his current concealed weapon charges, authorities found that Alsaif has been living in the country illegally. Alsaif had been a University of Tampa student, but was dismissed for poor academic performance in May 2009. Alsaif failed to file a timely appeal for his dismissal. As detailed in Alsaif's Order of Detention, he is now in violation of his student visa and subject to deportation. The court document also claimed that there are reasons to believe that Alsaif "has not been entirely candid since his arrest."