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April 3rd, 2010

Man Arrested for Making Hoax Bomb Call on Carnival Cruise Line

Passengers on board the Carnival Sensation got a much more sensational experience than they were promised, when a man on board announced that there was a bomb on the cruise liner. Fortunately, no bomb was found on the ship, and the man has been arrested.

The entire drama began on early Sunday morning, when 31-year-old Virginia resident Ibrahim Khalil Zarou was overheard by another passenger saying “Come to the top deck to watch the bomb” and “We are jihad.” Naturally, the passenger informed ship authorities, who immediately set a plan of action into motion.

First, security personnel on the ship conducted an extensive search for any explosives on the vessel. No explosives were found. The FBI, local Sheriff’s officers and the Coast Guard were next in line to board the ship. Bomb sniffer dogs were brought in to scour the ship. A security circle was established around the vessel.

After law enforcement agencies concluded that there was no bomb on the ship, the cruise vessel continued on to its destination of Port Canaveral in Florida. Zarou meanwhile, was arrested, and then released on a bond of $10,000. He’s expected to be charged with false reporting of a bomb threat.

Fortunately, there was a happy ending to this drama. As maritime lawyers, we were quite pleased to note that the Carnival Sensation cruise line set off a well-prepared and well established plan of action, after first being intimated about the bomb threat. All law enforcement agencies responded as they should have.

However, it does serve as a reminder that we live in interesting times.  It’s a wake up call that, although this threat was a damp squib, terrorist attacks are a very real danger to vessels.

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