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US Airways flight diverted after security scare

Updated May 23, 10 a.m. ET -- A US Airways passenger whose claim to have a surgically implanted device led to the diversion of a cross-Atlantic jet is not listed on terrorist watchlists or law enforcement databases, according to a congressman briefed on the incident.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said Wednesday that the woman, whose identity has not been released, has been "checked through all of the databases" and "her name has not shown up anywhere," according to the Associated Press.

King told NBC News' Luke Russert on Tuesday that the female passenger was a French citizen from Cameroon who had not checked bags on the flight.

On Tuesday, the Boeing 767 from Paris to Charlotte, N.C., was diverted to Bangor, Maine after the woman had handed a note to a flight attendant saying she had a surgically implanted device. U.S. authorities warned airlines last summer that terrorists might surgically hide bombs inside humans to evade airport security.

Two doctors aboard the plane examined the passenger and found that she had no scars or incisions, said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who was briefed by Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole.

The TSA said in a statement Tuesday that it was "aware of reports of a passenger who exhibited suspicious behavior during flight" and that the passenger was being interviewed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, according to the Associated Press.

"At this time, there is no evidence that the plane or its passengers were ever in any actual danger," said Greg Comcowich, an FBI spokesman in Boston.

The FBI and Homeland Security Department warned airlines last summer that terrorists are considering surgically hiding bombs inside humans to evade airport security.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said it had scrambled two F-15 fighter jets in response to the incident but gave no further details.

The airline, in a statement, said the flight's Boeing 767 aircraft was carrying 179 passengers and nine crew members that landed without incident around noon U.S. Eastern time, according to the Associated Press.

"We saw lots of police and federal customs people take a woman off the plane in handcuffs," said Stuart Frankel of Baltimore. "People were amazed at what was going on. We didn't know what was happening until we landed."

The flight was about 40 minutes away from Bangor when local officials were alerted. After landing, it taxied to a remote part of the airport where law enforcement officials removed the passenger, said Tony Caruso, acting airport manager.

Frankel said passengers had been advised to keep their shades down during a movie, so they didn't realize fighter jets had been dispatched to intercept the flight. There were a couple of calls on the overhead speakers for doctors, but that didn't seem especially unusual, he said.

Eventually, the pilot advised them that the jet needed to land for fuel in Maine.

William Milam from Richmond, Va., said he'd spoken French with the woman and helped her get her luggage into an overhead bin.

After the woman was removed from the flight, passengers were informed that they'd have to leave while the jet was checked for explosives, Milam said. "This is like, 'Wow,'" he said. "I'm thinking drugs. And they're thinking explosives."

Several passengers said they'd noticed that particular passenger because of her slight stature and big eyelashes. They said she attracted attention by walking up and down the aisle throughout the flight.

The passengers were kept in a secure area before being allowed back onto the jet, which departed 3 1/2 hours later for Charlotte, N.C.

The Bangor airport is accustomed to dealing with diverted flights.

It's the first large U.S. airport for incoming European flights and the last U.S. airport for outgoing flights, with uncluttered skies and one of the longest runways on the East Coast. Aircraft use the airport when there are mechanical problems, medical emergencies or unruly passengers.

Home to a Maine Air National Guard unit, the airport also serves as a refueling hub for military aircraft transporting personnel and cargo to and from Europe and the Middle East.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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