Boston: Litter sparks bus bomb scare

A Roxbury man dressed in what cops called “Middle Eastern garb” was arrested after he dropped his chocolate milk under a bus yesterday – sparking a bomb scare, but prompting his sister and a national Islamic advocacy group to question whether the charges are justified.

Amar Ibrahim, 27, was charged by transit police with littering, interfering with public transportation and disorderly conduct after the 9:30 a.m. incident led to the evacuation of a No. 66 bus in Brigham Circle and drew a bomb squad response, transit police said.

“Chocolate milk? Chocolate milk?” said a woman who identified herself as Ibrahim’s sister. “I’m just wondering, how does chocolate milk become a bomb?”

The woman, reached by phone last night, asked that her name not be used. She said her brother, a Muslim from the East African nation of Eritrea, was still in jail last night and she had been unable to get any information from police, who just told her to go to his arraignment today.

Boston Police Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey said Ibrahim, dressed in “Middle Eastern garb,” alarmed the bus driver with what she believed to be a suspicious act. “As the driver was looking in the mirror, she observed an individual who bent down and appeared to be placing a black object underneath the bus as if attaching some type of device underneath that bus,” Linskey said.

Transit Police Deputy Chief Robert Lenehan said bomb technicians with mirrors and a dog checked under the bus, but it had to be towed so police could get a closer look. That’s when the suspect object was found and determined to be a container of chocolate milk, said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. Pesaturo declined to comment on whether Ibrahim’s arrest was justified. But he said, “The man was observed dropping an object beneath a bus carrying several people. This unusual act attracted the attention of witnesses.”

But Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the case is troubling because Ibrahim might have been profiled. “Too often we have seen those who are perceived to be either Muslim and or Arabic treated differently than those who are not,” he said. “We will be following up to see that he is granted his due process and that his individual rights are maintained.”

Boston Herald, 23 August 2013