Pakistani from South Africa on his “dream vacation” to the city has been arrested for describing his suitcase as a “bomb” while checking in Tuesday at a Sheraton hotel in Brooklyn, police said.
Pakistani, Jhanzaib Malik, 24, who came to New York City to experience his ‘dream vacation’ is now spending his vacation on Rikers Island on $100,000 bail, Correction Department records show. Authorities charge in a criminal complaint that Malik pointed to his suitcase and said, “There’s a bomb in there” when he got frustrated with the check-in process at the Hotel. But his lawyer, Roger Asmar, said he actually only referred to his luggage as “bomb,” slang for cool, to impress the female concierge.
“The FBI checked the whole thing, and cleared him and leaves, and yet he still gets arrested,” Asmar said. “Now, this poor kid is sitting in jail. It’s ridiculous. It’s discrimination against Pakistanis.”
A law enforcement source rejected that claim. “Whether or not he has terror ties is completely irrelevant to the charges,” the source said. Javed Malik, 39, said from Johannesburg that his nephew had saved money for a year to be able to afford the trip.
“When he got the visa he was really happy to go to America,” Javed Malik said. “He wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Times Square. He believes America has a lot of positivity. He phoned today and he was crying. He doesn’t know what is happening to him.”
The younger Malik arrived in New York on Monday, planning to spend 10 days sightseeing with a woman friend from Boston, Asmar said. It was the first time he had been to the city. He arrived to check in at the hotel. There was a hitch involving his credit card and it was temporarily delayed.
“He’s having a friendly conversation with the concierge, kind of flirting with her, charming her,” Asmr said. “He’s doing what any 24-year-old would do. He was showing off that he had money. He wanted to go out with her.” Asmar says Malik asked the concierge to hold $2,700 in cash he was carrying and his luggage, while he went to get some breakfast. She agreed. “He said, ‘Also, hold on to my 5,000 bomb luggage,’” Asmar said.
Malik went to have breakfast, returned, and the concierge returned his money and told him to take a seat. At that point, the police arrived and arrested him. They took him to a police building. The FBI was called in. Malik was searched, along with his luggage. They looked at his phone, his Facebook page and his background.
After the FBI agents left, Malik was transferred to central booking and arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court, where he was charged with two counts of falsely reporting an incident. He then ended up on then Rikers Island, where Asmar said he has been harassed by other inmates.
Malik works for his uncle as a fraud manager in the technology department of Skywise Airlines, a domestic carrier in South Africa. The young man is also training to be a pilot. Javed Malik says the family doesn’t have the money to bail his nephew out immediately, and appealed for help from President Obama in getting him released.
“We don’t have any problem with them (law enforcement) checking him out, but putting him in jail, that was harsh,” the uncle said. “They could have just given him a warning, and told him the rules. “We believe America is a very fair country, and we want to continue believing in that. He was just trying to impress the girl.”
Malik’s next court appearance is Monday.