Nigerian man charged with attempting to destroy US plane

Nigerian man charged with attempting to destroy US plane 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.