Thursday, January 21, 2010



PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A US Airways passenger plane was diverted to Philadelphia on Thursday after a religious item worn by a Jewish passenger was mistaken as a bomb, Philadelphia police said.

A passenger was alarmed by the phylacteries, religious items which observant Jews strap around their arms and heads as part of morning prayers, on the flight from New York's La Guardia airport heading to Louisville.

"Someone on the plane construed it as some kind of device," said officer Christine O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia police department.

No one was arrested or charged, O'Brien said.

The plane landed without incident and the passengers and crew were taken off the plane, a spokesman for US Airways said.

Phylacteries, called tefillin in Hebrew, are two small black boxes with black straps attached to them. Observant Jewish men are required to place one box on their head and tie the other one on their arm each weekday morning.

Thursday's incident was the latest of several false alarms on U.S. flights since the December 25 incident in which a Nigerian man attempted to detonate a bomb in his underpants from materials he smuggled onto the plane just as his flight was about to land in Detroit, authorities said.

The device did not explode and only burned the man, who was pounced on by fellow passengers.

Since then several flights have been diverted by security scares that have turned out to be harmless.

(Reporting by Jon Hurdle in Philadelphia, Kyle Peterson in Chicago and Daniel Trotta in New York; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Philip Barbara)