AGENTS of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who have been investigating the illegal boarding of an American Airlines Airbus by a Trini student early Thursday morning have been unable to link the student to any terrorist group or any illegal activities.
The FBI officers who searched the apartment of Nishal Sankat, 22, did not find any guns, explosives or any material in his computer to suggest that he had terrorist links. The FBI is expected to make contact with local law enforcement to carry out background checks in Trinidad as part of the ongoing investigation.
On Thursday, Sankat was booked at Brevard County Jail and charged with unarmed burglary of an occupied aircraft, grand theft and trespass on airport property, according to jail records.
CNN reports he was unarmed, and had no explosives.
Relatives, friends and former classmates of Nishal, yesterday expressed disbelief over the alleged action of the trainee pilot. Newsday understands that retired UWI St Augustine campus principal Prof Clement Sankat was contacted by relatives living in Miami who broke the news that his son Nishal was arrested and charged.
Yesterday, Prof Sankat, who is reportedly working in Belize, told Newsday he was driving and could not say anything further on his son’s arrest. His voice appeared to be cracking as he spoke briefly on his mobile phone.
A relative who asked not to be named accused the foreign media of propagating fake news that Nishal had links to terrorism. The relative flatly denied that. Nishal, who has a Florida driver’s licence, lived in Canada for some time and then moved to Florida and was attending the Florida Institute of Technology and it was his dream to become a pilot.
“I am sure he did not go to steal that airbus. He just wanted to sit in the cockpit and pretend he was in control. He is not a thief, he is a good individual and all those who know him could attest to this,” the relative said.
Yesterday, principal of Hillview College Leslie Mahase said he could not comment on the arrest of a former student of the college because of the ongoing investigation.
However, several teachers of the college who knew Nishal said he was a bright, energetic student who had a positive impact on his classmates.