LA JUNTA, Colo. – A man who alarmed fellow passengers by talking about terrorist threats on a cell phone was pulled from a train and faces a felony charge of endangering public transportation.
Ojore Nuru Lutalo, 64, who was recently released from prison, was arrested Tuesday on an Amtrak passenger train in Colorado while traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago. Passengers on the train alerted authorities after hearing the man mention Al Qaeda and make threats in a cell phone conversation.
Police said in an affidavit that passengers overheard Lutalo saying he hadn't killed anyone yet, and that he talked about going to jail.
Passengers said the man said, "We have to work in small groups. They can hold you for 18 months. Do they have security on these trains? Are you with me or not?"
One passenger said he heard Lutalo mention Al Qaeda, saying, "17th century tactics won't work, we have 21st century tactics."
The conductor said Lutalo had a tan blanket over his entire body so the conductor could not see what he was doing.
Lutalo was taken into custody at the La Junta train station in southeastern Colorado. Police said he was not armed or carrying explosives. He was carrying propaganda for an anarchist group called the Afrikan Liberation Army.
Lutalo was released Thursday night after posting $30,000 bond, said Otero Country sheriff Chris Johnson. Lutalo's next court date in Otero County District Court is Feb. 5.
Johnson said federal officials have been notified. FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright did not immediately have any information.
Lutalo was released in August from a prison in his home state of New Jersey after a 27-year term for aggravated assault, robbery and two counts of weapons possession. New Jersey authorities said Lutalo has also used the name Leroy Bunting.
Bonnie Kerness, a member of the American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch Program, said Friday that Lutalo was returning to New Jersey from a speaking engagement at a book fair in Los Angeles sponsored by a group that raises money to help prisoners. Kerness, who monitored Lutalo while he was in prison, described him as mild-mannered and polite and had spoken with him by phone several times while he was on the train.
"It seems like so much ado about nothing," she said from the group's offices in Newark, New Jersey.