Man charged after bomb threat on Carnival Sensation www.privateofficer.com
The words were later determined to be a hoax and the passenger, Ibrahim Khalil Zarou of Leesburg, Virginia, who had been cruising as part of a party of 12, was arrested by Brevard County Sheriff’s Office officials for making a false bomb threat.
But Zarou’s words, which were reported by another passenger to ship officials, started a chain of events that included the ship being held four miles off the Florida coast for several hours and being boarded by the Coast Guard, FBI and local sheriff’s office officials; a search by bomb-sniffing dogs, conducted at Port Canaveral (where the ship had been headed), and a Unified Command being established, involving several government agencies.
In other words, there was a plan and it was put into action.
The “threat” was first reported to ship personnel around 4 a.m., and an exhaustive search for a bomb was conducted by onboard security personnel, according to USCG spokesman Christopher Evanson, Petty Officer First Class.
The 87-foot coast guard cutter Shrike was called in to assist in bringing USCG, FBI and other law enforcement officials to the scene and in establishing a security zone around the vessel, which had 3,740 passengers and crew onboard.
They arrived around 9:30 a.m., and conducted an additional bomb search and also interviewed eyewitnesses and the suspect. The arrest was made.
Back in Port Canaveral, where the Sensation was headed on the last leg of a 3-day Bahamas cruise, dogs were brought in to search Terminal 5, and a Unified Command was established. Represented at the command post were the USCG, FBI, Transportation Safety Administration, Port Canaveral Police Department, Canaveral Fire and Rescue, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Federal Air Marshal’s Service, as well as Carnival Cruise Line.
After it was determined there was no credible bomb threat, the ship was allowed to return to port, arriving at about 10:45 a.m., some five hours later than scheduled. Some passengers had to rebook missed flights home.
Extra security personnel remained at Port Canaveral throughout the day, yesterday. The ship was cleared for its next cruise, embarking yesterday evening.
UPDATE (11:33 a.m.): Florida Today is reporting Ibrahim Khalil Zarou, a heating and air conditioning salesman, was released on $10,000 bond. No court date has been set for a hearing on the charge of false reporting of a bomb threat.