WASHINGTON May 11, 2010 -- A Pakistani man was detained at the U.S. Embassy in Chile yesterday after field tests detected explosive residue on his hands and personal items, the State Department said today.
A U.S. official tells ABC News the man had been recently added to a U.S. terror watch list, and as a result his U.S. visa was in the process of being revoked. In accordance with U.S. law, the man had been notified of the intention to revoke his U.S. visa and he was at the embassy to discuss the matter.
The State Department identified the man as Muhammad Saif-Ur-Rehman Khan, age 27. Spokesman P.J. Crowley would only say the man came to the embassy for a "consular issue." He said the U.S. had recently obtained information about the individual and had called him to the embassy to clarify, though he declined to provide specifics.
"We have information on this individual," Crowley said. "We had brought him -- invited him to come to the embassy, you know, to clarify the information that we have on this individual. And as he came into the embassy, our explosive detectors went off."
Sources tell ABC News that the individual was then subjected to further swabs and searches which also tested positive. The suspect was detained and turned over to Chilean authorities for further investigation.
Additional, more definitive testing is being done to make sure the field tests did not create a false positive for explosive residue, which is common. Crowley, however, said, "We don't think this was a spurious hit on our detection system," meaning it was likely an accurate detection of explosive residue.
Crowley would not speculate where the individual obtained the explosives or why he had them.
"This is something that we will investigate and Chilean officials will investigate," he said.
The FBI is looking into what connections the suspect may have with terror groups, and, if the tests prove positive, where he obtained the explosive material.
The incident comes at a time of heightened sensitivity just over a week after another Pakistani man tried to ignite an explosive device in New York's Times Square.