Airport Suspect Charged With Hostage Taking
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ A Syrian man accused of holding a 10-year-old boy hostage for eight hours at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport has been arraigned on federal charges of hostage-taking, authorities said.
Solah Kassem Abou-Kassem, 26, could be sentenced to up to life in prison and fined up to $250,000 if convicted, U.S. Attorney Marvin Collins said Wednesday.
″I brought you here to tell the court that I’m guilty and only want to go back to my country,″ Abou-Kassem told U.S. Magistrate Alex McGlinchey.
The decision to file the federal charges was made in consultation with the airport’s Department of Public Safety and other local officials, Collins said.
Abou-Kassem was arrested Tuesday by state officials for investigation of aggravated kidnaping and making a terroristic threat. Maximum punishment under the state law would have been 20 years in prison because the boy was voluntarily released alive and in a safe place, Collins said.
The charges stem from an ordeal that began when a man walked into the Delta Air Lines terminal Monday, took the youth at gunpoint from a ticket counter and threatened to kill him if not flown to the Middle East.
Abou-Kassem’s brother told the Dallas Morning News in an interview from Damascus that his brother was jailed in Syria on drug charges but was released because of mental disorders.
″As young as 10 years old, he started taking them (drugs),″ Hosni Abou- Kassem said through an interpreter.