Published: Oct 18, 2010 9:26 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 18, 2010 6:26 PM EDT

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A customs agent praised for preventing the so-called "20th hijacker" from entering the U.S. before the 9/11 terror attacks has been demoted over the theft of his service weapon and computer.

Jose Melendez-Perez was removed from the Orlando Joint Terrorism Task Force and handed a desk job after the incident six months ago. He also faces a two-week suspension without pay.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Monday that Melendez-Perez is appealing for reinstatement with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The gun and laptop computer were stolen from a van Melendez-Perez drove home one weekend in violation of department policy.

Melendez-Perez in August 2001 denied U.S. entry to Mohammed Qahtani, the supposed "20th hijacker."