A devout Israeli tourist aboard the Interisland ferry Kaitaki sparked a bomb scare and police armed offenders' alert today after the ship's captain spotted boxes and what looked like wires taped to the man.I guess I"ll have to make up some ads for their competition.
''One individual had two boxes attached, one box taped to his leg and one box seemingly taped to his forehead,'' Kiwirail spokesman Kevin Ramshaw told NZPA.
Jewish websites describe a traditional prayer ritual where a small black leather box called a "tefillin'' containing religious verses is taped to the arm and forehead.
''These may well have been part of religious observance, but to people who are involved in the travel business, there were what seemed to be wires attached to them.''
Mr Ramshaw said the captain then followed normal procedure by notifying police of his suspicions, sparking an armed offenders' alert in Picton.
Crew then spent a nervous three hours closely observing the man as they sailed the Cook Strait, to avoid mass panic.
"Staff felt the better thing to do was observe and stay away.''
Mr Ramshaw said the 750 passengers aboard the ferry on the Wellington-Picton trip were "probably'' not aware of the perceived threat.
Police spoke to the Israeli tourist and his three travelling companions upon arrival at Picton, before releasing them without charge.
"The guys were, in the eyes of people, acting suspicious, but in actual fact they weren't,'' Senior Sergeant Peter Payne told NZPA. "I believe that they were just going to pray or doing something like that.''
Reports the captain had been taken hostage were inaccurate.
"There is no hostage, there is nothing like that at all, no explosives, no firearms or anything ... They haven't done anything wrong at all.'' (source and more...)
hat-tip: Prof. Barry Rubin
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