staff and news service reports
updated 5/6/2006 7:20:13 PM ET 2006-05-06T23:20:13

Law enforcement officials on Saturday boarded an American Airlines flight at Newark Liberty International Airport and detained five foreign-born passengers who had been acting suspiciously, NBC News reports.

The men were interviewed and later released from custody, according to WNBC-TV.

A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told NBC News that a crew member noticed at least one of the men reading “aviation manuals” and notified the pilot of Flight 1874 from Dallas. The pilot then radioed ahead and asked law enforcement officials to meet the flight at Newark airport.

The five passengers were detained by Transportation Security Administration officials shortly after the plane touched down at 3:15 p.m. and were interviewed, TSA spokeswoman Jessica Altschul said.

Other passengers were also interviewed, she said.

Altschul said the cockpit was not breached.

“No weapons or anything like that were present,” American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said in a statement.

The plane was bound from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport when an air marshal notified authorities of five men he considered suspicious, Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told The Associated Press.

Two of the detainees are believed to be of Angolan descent and one may be of Israeli descent, according to a senior government official.

The official also said they may all have been students at a flight school or flight repair school and at least some of them were reading “aviation manuals” of some kind.

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