Ex-National Guard infantryman accused in 9/11 threats indicted by grand jury
By KATE MATHER | Los Angeles Times | Published: September 23, 2013
A grand jury has indicted an ex-Transportation Security Administration screener and former National Guard infantryman on six federal charges after he allegedly made a series of 9/11-related threats against Los Angeles International Airport, court documents show.
The indictment, issued Friday, alleges that Nna Alpha Onuoha, 29, intentionally conveyed false information and made threats against the airport after resigning from his TSA job Sept. 10. He was arrested later that day and remains in federal custody.
Onuoha was charged the day after his arrest, but the grand jury's indictment clears the way for his trial. Last week, a judge deemed him a flight risk and ordered him held without bail. Onuoha did not enter a plea.
The multiagency search for the Nigerian-born, naturalized U.S. citizen unfolded the morning of Sept. 10 after he resigned from his TSA job and allegedly left behind a trail of threats depicted in phone calls, suspicious packages and rambling letters.
According to a federal affidavit, Onuoha returned to LAX about four hours after he resigned, leaving behind a package containing an eight-page letter about his complaints over a June incident that led to his suspension.
Onuoha then allegedly made three calls to airport officials, warning that the "TSA was running out of time" and the "entire airport" should be evacuated immediately.
Authorities went to the Onuoha's Inglewood apartment -- where the former National Guard infantryman lived in a complex for military veterans -- but found no sign of him. Onuoha was gone, along with his belongings, authorities said.
The only thing left behind, according to the affidavit, was a handwritten note in his closet, reading: "09/11/2013 THERE WILL BE FIRE! FEAR! FEAR! FEAR!"
The search for Onuoha ended when a security guard spotted the suspect sleeping in a van parked at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif. He was arrested by a Riverside Police Department SWAT team without incident, "oblivious" to the search, Lt. Guy Toussaint said.
When Onuoha was arrested, he told authorities his intentions weren't a call to violence, according to the affidavit. Instead, he said, he planned to start "preaching in the streets."
Authorities also unearthed several online letters signed by Onuoha that included anti-American statements, references to the "end of the world" and a promise to deliver a "real message" on the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The letters also mentioned the June incident that led to Onuoha's weeklong suspension a month later.
Onuoha, who had worked for the TSA since 2006, was suspended from July 21 to July 27 for criticizing a 15-year-old girl's choice of clothes, telling her to "cover up," according to the federal affidavit. The encounter was highly publicized after the girl's father -- BoingBoing blog founder Mark Frauenfelder -- wrote about the incident.
Additional court documents filed last week included religious-themed farewell letters Onuoha allegedly sent to acquaintances. The filing also included a Sept. 11 email between authorities stating that Onuoha had contacted Frauenfelder by email.
"Mr. Frauenfelder and his family are in fear for their safety," the email between authorities read, "because as Mr. Frauenfalder [sic] stated, 'if he can get my email, he can get my address.'"