A 27-year-old man is facing criminal charges after he allegedly told an airline employee at Boston's Logan International Airport that he was a member of Al Qaeda and planned to "blow up things."

Ermiyas Asfaw, a native of Ethiopia who lives in Washington, D.C., pleaded not guilty in East Boston District Court to a charge of making a false communication of an explosive device. Bail was set at $1,500.

State police say Asfaw was in the process of checking in for a flight Saturday night when he told an AirTran employee that he had explosives.

Logan spokesman Phil Orlandella says Asfaw said, "I'm with Al Qaeda. I'm with them and I'm here to blow up things." Asfaw later told authorities he was only joking.

Prosecutors said Asfaw made the statements after becoming irritated when an airline employee asked him about a tag on his luggage that indicated he had been to Dubai of the United Arab Emirates.

Asfaw's attorney, Francis McHugh, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.