Nigerian man charged with attempting to destroy US plane

Last Updated: Sunday, December 27, 2009 - 08:46

Washington: A 23-year-old Nigerian man has
been charged with attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines
aircraft when it was approaching Detroit airport on Christmas
day with 278 persons on board, officials said.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who boarded Northwest Flight
253 in Amsterdam, was charged with attempting to destroy it
with a "high explosive" and placing a destructive device on
the plane, said a statement by the Justice Department.

The charges have been framed against him in an affidavit
filed in support of a federal criminal complaint.

A preliminary FBI analysis found that the device
contained PETN, known as pentaerythritol, a high explosive
substance. Further analysis is ongoing, the statement said.

In addition, FBI agents recovered what appeared to be the
remnants of the syringe from the vicinity of Abdulmutallab`s
seat, believed to have been part of the device.

"This alleged attack on a US airplane on Christmas Day
shows that we must remain vigilant in the fight against
terrorism at all times," Attorney General Eric Holder said.

"Had this alleged plot to destroy an airplane been
successful, scores of innocent people would have been killed
or injured.

"We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously,
and we will use all measures available to our government to
ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is
brought to justice," he said yesterday.

Abdulmutallab, born on December 22, 1986, was scheduled
to make his initial court appearance in the District Court in
Detroit later today, the Department of Justice said.

According to the affidavit, the Nigerian national set off
the device when the flight was approaching Detroit
Metropolitan Airport. "It resulted in a fire and what appears
to have been an explosion."

Abdulmutallab was then subdued and restrained by the
passengers and flight crew. The aircraft landed shortly
thereafter, and the young man was taken into custody by
Customs and Border Patrol officers.

He required medical treatment and was transported to the
University of Michigan Medical Centre after the plane`s
arrival.

Interviews of all of the passengers and crew of Flight
revealed that prior to the incident, Abdulmutallab went to
bathroom for approximately 20 minutes, according to the
affidavit. Upon returning to his seat, he stated that his
stomach was upset, and he pulled a blanket over himself.

Passengers then heard popping noises similar to
firecrackers, smelled an odour, and some observed his pants
leg and the wall of the airplane on fire. Passengers and crew
then subdued him and used blankets and fire extinguishers to
put out the flames.

Passengers reported that Abdulmutallab was calm and lucid
throughout. On being asked by a flight attendant what he had
in his pocket, he replied: "explosive device", the affidavit
said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, December 27, 2009 - 08:46

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