Sigh: Apparently a passenger aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit tried to set off an explosive as the plane was landing. ABC News reports, "Federal officials and police are interviewing a Nigerian man, who allegedly tried to 'explode' a powdery substance...injuring himself and two other passengers."
ABC News adds, "The man said he was directed by al Qaeda to explode a small device in flight, over U.S. soil... Authorities have no corroboration of that information, and the credibility of the suspect's statements are being questioned, officials said." The AP says that the passenger was trying to set off firecrackers; also, President Obama, who is on vacation, was notified of the incident.
The plane was carrying 278 passengers. The Detroit Free-Press reports, "Syed Jafry of Holland, Mich., said people ran out of their seats to tackle the man. Jafry was sitting in the 16th row when he heard 'a pop and saw some smoke and fire.'...He said the way passengers responded made him proud to be an American."
Update: The White House calls the incident an attempted act of terrorism. The Washington Post reports, "Officials said they are not prepared to raise the terrorism alert level, currently at orange -- or the second-highest of five levels -- for domestic and international air travel. However, the Department of Homeland Security said late Friday that passengers 'may notice additional screening measures, put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights.'"
According to the NY Times, the suspect, identified as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, said "that he had had explosive powder taped to his leg and that he had used a syringe of chemicals to mix with the powder to try to cause an explosion." (It's unclear how he managed to get the explosive on the flight; he transferred to the Amsterdam-Detroit flight in Amsterdam via a flight from Nigeria.) He also claimed to have received the explosive device from Yemen with instructions for using it, but federal officials are investigating his allegations of Al Qaeda connections.
Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island), who is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, told the Daily News, "It was a fairly sophisticated device. If it would have worked, he could have brought the plane down." Additionally, King says that Abdulmutallab was not on a no-fly list but he did allegedly have "terrorists connections to northern Africa."