Nigerian attempts to blow up US plane; claims link to Al Qaeda (Evening Lead)Evening Lead)December 26th, 2009 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Dec 26 (IANS) A Nigerian, claiming links with Al Qaeda, set off a small explosion on board a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, setting off a major security alert with the incident being described as an “attempted terrorist attack”.
The Nigerian was quickly subdued and Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam landed safely in Detroit, Michigan, around noon Friday, with several of the 278 passengers sustaining minor injuries in the incident.
The suspect, identified by a member of Congress as Abdul Mudallad, could face charges later Saturday, Detroit’s Free Press Journal quoted an official as saying. He was being treated at a local hospital for burns he suffered while igniting the device.
The FBI is investigating the incident and President Barack Obama, celebrating Christmas in Hawaii, ordered that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton released a statement following the incident. It said: “The president was notified of the incident this morning between 9:00 and 9:30 Hawaii time by the president’s military aide. The president subsequently convened a secure conference call with John Brennan, his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Adviser, and Denis McDonough, NSS Chief of Staff.
Senator Susan Collins, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said in a statement: “”Eight years after Richard Reid attempted to blow up an airliner with explosives hidden in his shoe, today’s incident, on Christmas Day, is a disturbing reminder that the terrorist threat is still very real and that we must continue to be vigilant and alert.
“The White House is calling this an attempted terrorist attack. It raises some serious questions, such as how was this person able to bring an explosive substance aboard a commercial airliner? And what is the Transportation Security Administration doing to address this type of threat?”
The remains of the device used for the explosion were being sent to an FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis.
Mudallad told federal investigators that the explosive device “was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used”, CNN said citing a federal security bulletin.
He said he travelled to Yemen to collect the incendiary device and instructions on how to use it.
Pete Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the US House Intelligence Committee, said this incident could be “one more indication” that the Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch was planning attacks on American soil.
“People have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration,” he said.
A passenger who witnessed the attempted destruction by the Nigerian man said he was proud of how other passengers reacted.
Syed Jafry of Holland, Ohio, near Toledo, who had flown from the United Arab Emirates, said after emerging from the airport that people ran out of their seats to tackle the man.
Jafry was sitting in the 16th row — three rows behind the suspect — when he heard “a pop and saw some smoke and fire”. Then, he said, “a young man behind me jumped on him”.
He said the way passengers responded made him proud to be an American.
Dawn Griffith and her daughter, Jessica, both of Pontiac, knew her husband, Richard Griffith’s flight from Amsterdam had landed at Metro Airport just before noon Christmas morning. Around 12.20 p.m. he called and told her he was about to get off the plane.
“I’ll see you in a minute,” he said. That was the last time she talked to him before he walked out of customs to greet her and their daughter around 5.30 p.m., five hours later.
By 1 p.m., Dawn Griffith and dozens of others waiting saw a black man handcuffed to a stretcher with bandaged hands wheeled by medical personnel past them.
“He went right by me,” Jessica Griffith said. “He was very young looking,” her mother added.
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- Abdul Mudallad: The Man Behind Flight 253 - Dec 26, 2009
- White House calls plane incident attempted terrorist attack (Third lead) - Dec 26, 2009
- Passenger tries to blow-up US airliner (Second lead) - Dec 26, 2009
- Terrorist Attack Goes Wrong On Christmas Day - Dec 26, 2009
- Terrorism scare on US-bound plane (Lead) - Dec 28, 2009
- Amsterdam steps up security after airline incident - Dec 26, 2009
- Obama to meet security chiefs in wake of Detroit plot - Jan 05, 2010
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- Detroit Terrorist Attack Is Suspected To Have Al Qaeda Link - Dec 27, 2009
- Man held over bomb threat to Amsterdam airport (Lead) - Feb 13, 2012
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- Nigerian terror suspect charged (Second Lead) - Dec 27, 2009
Tags: barack obama, bill burton, celebrating christmas, christmas day, christmas in hawaii, commercial airliner, counter terrorism, explosive substance, hawaii time, john brennan, member of congress, military aide, minor injuries, northwest airlines, northwest airlines flight, richard reid, security committee, senator susan collins, susan collins, white house press