The Twin Towers blast crater from 9/11.
9/11 bomb threats are never taken lightly. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/U.S. Navy/Flickr)

As John Denver sings, when your loved ones are leaving on a jet plane, you don’t know when they’ll be back again. That and 9/11 were on the mind of Long Island, N.Y., ex-con Mary Purcell when she did something that landed her in federal custody, reports the New York Post. Purcell called Tucson International Airport and made a 9/11 bomb threat because she was too afraid of terrorist attack to allow her mother and brother to fly.

Purcell 9/11 bomb threat: No joke

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks had the entire nation on alert, including Homeland Security officials at U.S. airports. Thus, federal agents were quick to reply when Mary Purcell, 37, phoned in not one, but two false bomb threats against Southwest Airlines Flight 2475, the flight Purcell’s mother and brother were taking from Tucson to New York.

Hordes of police and a bomb squad complete with explosive-sniffing dogs swarmed the plane on the tarmac, luggage was re-screened and passengers were removed as a security alert swept all of Tucson International Airport. Despite the bomb threat, the flight left only 10 minutes later than scheduled.

‘A credible threat’

Tucson Airport Authority Police Chief John Ivanoff noted that Mary Purcell’s 9/11 bomb threats were taken very seriously.

“We felt that it was a credible threat,” said Ivanoff. “We were already at a heightened state of alert [because of the 9/11 anniversary al-Qaida threats], but more manpower was needed.”

Passengers were interviewed by airport police, including Purcell’s mother and brother, Mary and William Meyer. Neither professed to knowledge that Mary Purcell’s 9/11 bomb threats would occur.

“They were baffled,” Ivanoff said.

Boyfriend would blow up plane over New York

Mary Purcell first told FBI investigators that she called Southwest Airlines to see if Flight 2475 was going to be delayed, perhaps by a terror or bomb threat. According to the arrest warrant, several hours later, Purcell admitted to federal authorities that in her later call to Southwest, she “stated that she overheard her boyfriend and his friends talking about carrying out a bombing of Flight 2475 when it got to New York.”

After further interrogation, Purcell confessed that the bomb threat was false.

Purcell was on parole for forgery

Mary Purcell, who was on parole for a previous forgery conviction, appeared in federal court today to face the charge of having phoned in a bomb threat. If convicted, she could serve up to 10 years in prison.

Purcell’s mother and brother signed off on the $200,000 bond for Mary’s release. Bond money was secured by placing Mary Purcell’s Lake Ronkonkoma, Long Island home up as collateral.

al-Qaida 9/11 car bomb threats


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