Al-Qaida link in failed plane attack

Friday, Dec. 25, 2009 6:18 PM
Last updated Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009 12:26 AM
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WASHINGTON — A Nigerian man who said he was an agent for al-Qaida tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane Friday as it was preparing to land in Detroit, but travelers who smelled smoke and heard what sounded like firecrackers rushed to subdue him, the passengers and federal officials said.

Flight 253 with 278 passengers and 11 crew members aboard was about 20 minutes from the airport when passengers heard popping noises, witnesses said. At least one person climbed over others and jumped on the man. Shortly afterward, the suspect was taken to the front of the plane with his pants cut off and his legs burned, a passenger said.

One U.S. intelligence official said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.

"It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase," said Peter Smith, a traveler from the Netherlands. "First there was a pop, and then (there) was smoke."

Smith said a passenger sitting opposite the man climbed over people, went across the aisle and tried to restrain the man. Syed Jafri, another passenger, said he saw a glow and smelled smoke. Then, he said, "a young man behind me jumped on him."

"Next thing you know, there was a lot of panic," said Jafri. Smith said the heroic passenger appeared to have been burned.

The White House said it believed it was an attempted act of terrorism and stricter security measures were quickly imposed on airline travel. It did not specify what those were.

The incident was reminiscent of Richard Reid, who tried to destroy a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoes, but was subdued by other passengers. Reid is serving a life sentence.

Law enforcement officials identified the suspect in Friday's attempted attack as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. One law enforcement official said the man claimed to have been instructed by al-Qaida to detonate the plane over U.S. soil. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

The man was being questioned Friday evening. An intelligence official said the Nigerian passenger was being held and treated in an Ann Arbor, Mich., hospital. One passenger was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, hospital spokeswoman Tracy Justice said. She referred all inquiries to the FBI.

The trauma burn center at the hospital said it did not have Abdul Mutallab in its unit.

Flight 253 began in Nigeria and went through Amsterdam en route to Detroit, said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the ranking GOP member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

A spokeswoman for police at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam declined comment about the case or about security procedures at the airport for Flight 253. Schiphol airport, one of Europe's busiest with a heavy load of transit passengers from Africa and Asia to North America, strictly enforces European security regulations including only allowing small amounts of liquid in hand luggage that must be placed inside clear plastic bags.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about the flight until it was on final approach to Detroit, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. That is when the pilot declared an emergency, she said. The flight landed at 12:51 p.m. EST, she said.

Delta Air Lines Inc., which bought Northwest last year, said that "upon approach to Detroit, a passenger caused a disturbance." It said the passenger was subdued immediately and the crew asked that law enforcement officials meet the flight.

"The passenger was taken into custody and questioned by law enforcement authorities," the airline said.

According to the airline, eight flight attendants and three pilots were on board.

Smith said while he was leaving the plane, he looked at where the man had been sitting and saw a pillow that seemed to have been burned. Melinda Dennis, who was seated in the front row of the plane, said the man involved was brought to the front row and seated near her. She said his legs appeared to be badly burned and his pants were cut off. She said he was taken off the plane handcuffed to a stretcher.

President Barack Obama was notified of the incident and discussed it with security officials, the White House said. It said he is monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates from his vacation spot in Hawaii.

Federal officials said there would be heightened security for both domestic and international flights at airports across the country, but the intensified levels would likely be "layered," differing from location to location depending on alerts, security concerns and other factors.

Passengers can expect to see heightened screening, more bomb-sniffing dog and officer units and behavioral-detection specialists at some airports, but there will also be unspecified less visible precautions as well, officials said.

The FBI and the Homeland Security Department issued an intelligence note on Nov. 20 about the threat picture for the holiday season, which was obtained by The Associated Press. At the time, officials said they had no specific information about attack plans by al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.

In 2003, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden purportedly marked Nigeria for liberation in a recording posted on the Internet, calling on Muslims in the oil-rich country to rise up against one of the "regimes who are slaves of America." But links to al-Qaida remained rare, though security forces claimed to break up such a linked terror cell in November 2007.

Security at Nigeria's two major international airports in the capital Abuja and in its megacity Lagos remain a point of concern. Uniformed federal police officers often focus their time on keeping hagglers and taxi drivers out. Bags quickly pass through X-ray scanners and those watching incoming passengers do not typically conduct tests for explosive residue on passengers' carry-on baggage nor shoes.

At the gate, airline workers often check passengers again with handheld metal detectors before they board their flight.

Delta, which is days away from obtaining a single operating certificate from the FAA to fully integrate itself and Northwest, has been hosting military personnel who have to travel over the holidays in a lounge at the Detroit airport.

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TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 12/25/09 - 07:28 pm
0
0
Blow up A plane. geesh.

Blow up A plane. geesh. Thanks God he was stopped and everyone was safe to return home to their families!!

JohnBoy53
4
Points
JohnBoy53 12/25/09 - 07:31 pm
0
0
Ummmm....firecrackers will

Ummmm....firecrackers will not blow up a plane.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 12/25/09 - 07:35 pm
0
0
You can't hijack a plane with

You can't hijack a plane with a box cutter.

HollyHoly
0
Points
HollyHoly 12/25/09 - 07:39 pm
0
0
whatever

whatever

sassygirl12
1
Points
sassygirl12 12/25/09 - 08:32 pm
0
0
glad they got they idiot..i

glad they got they idiot..i don't know whats wrong with people today..if you want to die, then die. leave the innocent ones alone. whats the point of taking them with you? you are dead anyways you will never know you stupid nut cases

happychimer
26389
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happychimer 12/25/09 - 09:05 pm
0
0
Yes he has been identified,

Yes he has been identified, and is talking.

happychimer
26389
Points
happychimer 12/25/09 - 09:08 pm
0
0
Nigerian who allegedly tried

Nigerian who allegedly tried to ignite powder on flight claims al-Qaida ties http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34592031/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

John Locke
414
Points
John Locke 12/25/09 - 09:10 pm
0
0
Yes the so-called "religion

Yes the so-called "religion of peace" strikes again. According to more up to date reports, he is a member of Al Quaida. Detroit is home to the largest muslim population in the country. That would be a great public event for supporters there.

jack
12
Points
jack 12/25/09 - 09:15 pm
0
0
Nigerian who allegedly tried

Nigerian who allegedly tried to ignite powder on flight claims al-Qaida ties http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34592031/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/
Posted by happychimer on Fri Dec 25, 2009 8:08 PM....Too bad they couldn't have given him a lesson in free fall (definitely without chute).

RogueKnight
224
Points
RogueKnight 12/25/09 - 09:23 pm
0
0
Death by firing squad, I say.

Death by firing squad, I say.

HollyHoly
0
Points
HollyHoly 12/25/09 - 09:24 pm
0
0
OK, what happened to

OK, what happened to ''Terrorist"?

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 12/25/09 - 09:24 pm
0
0
WTG passengers, heros for the

WTG passengers, heros for the holiday!!

Yosemitesam
0
Points
Yosemitesam 12/25/09 - 09:26 pm
0
0
If he looks like a terrorist,

If he looks like a terrorist, walks like a terrorist, acts in any way suspicious, just go ahead and assume he's a terrorist and send him to see allah dude before he get the chance to send you to see St. Peter. Better to be safe and alive than dead and politically correct. Where is homeland security? If had happened on Bush's watch, the talking heads on MSNBC would be BBQ'n his rear end. Stay tuned, more to come under OBama new and relaxed rules for Homeland Security.

AnotherPerspective
0
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AnotherPerspective 12/25/09 - 09:34 pm
0
0
Maybe we can have a beer

Maybe we can have a beer summit, read some lines off a TelePrompTer and make all of our problems go away.

humbleopinion
1
Points
humbleopinion 12/25/09 - 09:52 pm
0
0
Death by firing squad from

Death by firing squad from THIS administration? They will nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize before they would do that! Too bad the passengers that jumped on him didn't strangle him before the plane got stopped. At least the [filtered word]didn't complete his mission!

happychimer
26389
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happychimer 12/25/09 - 09:57 pm
0
0
Why don't you whiners find

Why don't you whiners find out what the President and other government officials are doing before you spew you ridiculous negative hate. They are working and not listening to you fools.

JohnBoy53
4
Points
JohnBoy53 12/25/09 - 10:06 pm
0
0
Earlier report said it was

Earlier report said it was firecrackers. Go figure.

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
Points
BakersfieldCityLimits 12/25/09 - 10:19 pm
0
0
There will be peace when you

There will be peace when you submit.

CobaltGeorge
218114
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/25/09 - 11:39 pm
0
0
This will not be called a

This will not be called a terriorist act, just some derange individual just like the Ft. Hood ordeal. We have a muslim leader that will support muslim actions to the very end. Come on everybody "speak with PC" and close your eyes to the truth of the last 11 months.

smartie
0
Points
smartie 12/26/09 - 12:02 am
0
0
well, thanks to the one

well, thanks to the one heroic passenger. what the heck was the rest of them thinking? they should've kicked this "peace loving muslims" teeth down his throat. i guess the perception of our great country, overseas, is no better under the current administration as it was under the previous one. just much weaker!

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 12/26/09 - 12:15 am
0
0
Another human whose mind has

Another human whose mind has been corrupted by a senseless and mythical religion. Muslims are trying to make up for lost time and overtake Christians as being the most vile, murderous, oppressive, violent cult in history. Sad.

KrispyKremgle
0
Points
KrispyKremgle 12/26/09 - 12:20 am
0
0
As best I can tell, all Obama

As best I can tell, all Obama has done is get a few phone calls. Am I missing the speech where he came out and denounced this act of terrorism or anything else?

dani
13
Points
dani 12/26/09 - 12:23 am
0
0
baron..I take it you are not

baron..I take it you are not a Christian. I am now wondering if all the ghetto killings are being committed by Christians.

dani
13
Points
dani 12/26/09 - 12:27 am
0
0
Never fear Krispy...

Never fear Krispy... Napolitano is on the job and Obama can continue to soak up the rays in Hawaii. lol

KrispyKremgle
0
Points
KrispyKremgle 12/26/09 - 12:31 am
0
0
dani, what's our third

dani, what's our third choice?

Yosemitesam
0
Points
Yosemitesam 12/26/09 - 01:39 am
0
0
I'm sure the OBama

I'm sure the OBama administration will appoint him a free Harvard attorney who'll get him off with some mental health program, then grant him citizenship, social security, new health insurance, school loan, small business disadvantaged grant, and low interest home loand. Maybe even find him a job in the Obama job corp or working for ACORN. They shoulda just tossed him out of the plane over wilderness and let Allah give him his just reward.

Yosemitesam
0
Points
Yosemitesam 12/26/09 - 01:42 am
0
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baronvonreich........Despicab

baronvonreich........Despicable response. but, nothing new about that. We have come to expect foul air escaping from your piehole

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 12/26/09 - 01:54 am
0
0
haha sam.. nice posts, ^5!!

haha sam.. nice posts, ^5!!

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 12/26/09 - 02:16 am
0
0
Turth hurt yosemitesam?

Turth hurt yosemitesam?

crackerjack
396
Points
crackerjack 12/26/09 - 03:14 am
0
0
The report says the man has

The report says the man has 3rd degree burns. I hope when they do skin grafts on him, that they use pig stomachs, and no pain pills. And waterboard him in a tub of alcohol.

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