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A TSA employee advises travelers that liquids are not allowed through the gate at at the Los Angeles airport.
Damian Dovarganes/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 10/11/2012
Yongda Huang Harris and his carry-on luggage were thoroughly searched.
But authorities found nothing suspicious and he boarded the flight, said a Homeland Security official briefed on the investigation.
The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Harris, 28, was arrested in Los Angeles last week during a stopover on a trip from Japan after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers noticed the bulletproof vest.
A search of Harris' checked luggage uncovered the smoke grenade and an array of suspicious items, including leg irons, body bags, a hatchet, billy clubs, a collapsible baton, duct tape and a biohazard suit.
U.S. officials were working with South Korean authorities to determine how the grenade slipped through screening.
Harris is not cooperating with federal officials who are trying to determine why he was headed to Boston with the cache of weapons, authorities said.
The smoke grenade was X-rayed by police bomb squad officers, who said the device fell into a category that is prohibited on board passenger aircraft.
Tom Blank, a former deputy administrator at the Transportation Security Administration, said the U.S. will likely look at whether the failure to detect the grenade on a U.S.-bound jet was a one-time lapse or part of a wider security vulnerability.
If the U.S. determines a country's airport doesn't meet U.S. standards, it can ask for stronger security measures and even prohibit flights from flying directly to the U.S. from that country.