In this episode, retired agent Steve Lazarus reviews his investigation of a flight attendant for disrupting the normal operations of two commercial airplane flights.
The flight attendant set a fire in the lavatory of a 50-passenger commuter airplane, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing. He was also charged with phoning a gate at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta just six days after the 9/11 terror attacks and threatening that the airplane would blow up in the air and all passengers aboard the flight were going to die. Steve worked this case while assigned as the Atlanta Division’s first full-time airport liaison agent.
Steve Lazarus served in the FBI for twenty-two years. His first office assignment was the Atlanta Division, where he spent the initial 10 years of his career investigating anti-government extremists, drug trafficking organizations, and violent street gangs. For a couple of years, Steve was also the division’s media coordinator.
Special Agent (Retired)
1/1997 – 10/2018
“Fire onboard an aircraft is never a good thing. So, we all sort of went about our business, interviewing people and got together about four hours later in a conference room and just sat around, went around the table and said, all right, what did you find? What did you find? Pretty quickly it became, I don’t want to say obvious because we still kept our options open, but it became pretty clear that we were looking at the flight attendant on this flight. The reason was nobody went inside that lavatory, but the flight attendant.”— Retired Agent Steve Lazarus
Steve later attended the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School in Huntsville, Alabama, and became a full-time Special Agent Bomb Technician (SABT). His criminal investigations and counter-explosives experience led him to several overseas deployments in support of the Global War on Terror, including stints with the Regime Crimes Liaison Office in Baghdad, Iraq, the International Contract Corruption Task Force in Kuwait, and multiple tours with the Combined Explosive Exploitation Cell in Kabul, Afghanistan.
During this time period, Steve transferred to the Burlington RA in Vermont, his office of preference, where he garnered the FBI’s first-ever conviction of a sovereign citizen in the state.
Wanting to return full-time work as a bomb tech, Steve was promoted to supervisory special agent with the Critical Incident Response Group’s Render Safe Unit, an elite cadre of bomb technicians charged with the hands-on disassembly and disposal of improvised and state-sponsored nuclear devices. He accepted his final assignment, as manager of the International Collection and Engagement Program and the FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center in Huntsville, where he managed the worldwide deployment of SABTs and scientists to high-threat areas with the mission of collecting explosive device and biometric data to identify bomb makers and the networks that supported them.
Since retiring from the FBI, Steve provided extensive training and consulting services to educational institutions and corporate clients in the US and Middle East and spent several years as a national security contractor in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He is the author of Call Me Sonny, a novel inspired by one of his real-life cases. You can learn more about Steve and his book at stevelazarusbooks.com.
The following are links to articles about the investigation of Turhan Lamons for arson and bomb threats on an airplane:
Rome News-Tribune7/18/2003: Attendant indicted in fir
Aero News Network – 7/19/2003: FA Accused Of Setting Fire On Commercial Flight
Rome News-Tribune – 5/13/2006: Lamons found guilty of arson
USAO Northern District of Georgia – 8/10/2006: FORMER FLIGHT ATTENDANT SENTENCED ON AIRCRAFT ARSON AND THREAT CONVICTIONS
Transcript – 7/3/2008: UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Turhan Jamar LAMONS, Defendant-Appellant
Listen to this episode to learn more about Special agent Bomb Techs (SABTs) do: