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Attempted Terror Attack on Northwest Flight

As you may have already heard, there was an attempted terrorist attack on a Northwest flight from Amsterdam bound for the United States.

The perpetrator? A Nigerian man who ignited a small explosive device aboard the flight.

Damn, why can’t they just stick to the scam mail?

us.airline.suspect.cnnA Nigerian man is “talking a lot” to the FBI, said a senior U.S. official, after what the United States believes was an attempted terrorist attack on an inbound international flight.

The initial impression is that the suspect was acting alone and did not have any formal connections to organized terrorist groups, said the official, who is familiar with the investigation.

The suspect, identified by a U.S. government official as 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, ignited a small explosive device Friday, shortly before a Northwest flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, landed at Detroit Metro Airport in Michigan.

Passenger Jasper Schuringa told CNN that with the aid of the cabin crew, he helped subdue and isolate Abdulmutallab.

Abdulmutallab was taken into custody and is being treated for second- and third-degree burns on his thighs, according to federal law enforcement and airline security sources.

The sources told CNN that the suspect flew into Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on a KLM flight from Lagos, Nigeria, and is not believed to be on any “no fly” list, although his name does appear in a U.S. database of people with suspect connections.

Abdulmutallab did not undergo secondary security screening in Amsterdam, an administration official and the Dutch counterterrorism coordinator said.

The administration official said there was no evidence that Abdulmutallab was a hard-core, trained member of al-Qaeda.

The Nigerian national, however, claimed to have extremist ties and said the explosive device “was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used,” a federal security bulletin obtained by CNN said.

The remains of the device used were sent to an FBI explosives lab in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis, security sources said.

British counterterrorism police officers were searching houses Saturday in central London, England, in relation to the airline incident, a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman told CNN.

One piece of information led police to an ornate building on Mansfield Street in London, where Abdulmutallab may have once lived in a basement apartment. It wasn’t clear as to what police were searching for.

“The security of the public must always be our primary concern,” said a statement Saturday from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The statement was read over the phone by a spokesman at 10 Downing Street.

“We have been working closely with the U.S. authorities on investigating this incident since it happened yesterday. Because of the serious potential threat posed by the incident, I have spoken to the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, whose officers have been carrying out searches of properties in London.

“We will continue to take whatever action necessary to protect passengers on airlines and the public,” Brown said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman at the University College of London said a student named Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was enrolled in the department of mechanical engineering from September 2005 to June 2008. Dave Weston said the college has no other information on the man.

President Obama, who is spending the holidays in Hawaii, was briefed on the incident during a secure phone call with aides and instructed in a subsequent discussion with security advisers “that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel,” White House spokesman Bill Burton told CNN. The president made no changes to his schedule, Burton said.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement Friday saying that air passengers “may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights.”

Passengers described the brief moments of panic on board, as screams erupted and flight attendants ran for fire extinguishers.

Syed Jafry, who was sitting in seat 16G, said the plane was just beginning to descend when passengers heard a pop.

“Everybody got a little bit startled,” he said. “After a few seconds or so … there was … kind of a flamish light and there was fire” and people around the immediate area began to panic.

Schuringa said he heard a big bang that sounded like a firecracker going off. He told CNN that he was the one who was able to subdue Abdulmutallab. CNN was not able to independently confirm Schuringa’s account.

Schuringa said someone started yelling: “Fire! Fire!”

Then there was smoke. That’s when Schuringa said he knew something was terribly wrong.

When he noticed that Abdulmutallab was not moving, he grew suspect. He jumped over the passenger next to him and lunged over Abdulmutallab’s seat.

Schuringa said he saw that Abdulmutallab had his pants open and he was holding a burning object between his legs.

“I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away,” Schuringa said.

He said he managed to pull an object tucked between Abdulmutallab’s legs.

“Water! Water,” Schuringa screamed. He heard fire extinguishers as he pulled Abdulmutallab out of his seat and dragged him to the front of the plane.

Schuringa said Abdulmutallab seemed dazed. “He was staring into nothing.”

Schuringa said he stripped off Abdulmutallab’s clothes to make sure he did not have other explosives on his body. A crew member helped handcuff him.

He said other passengers applauded as he walked back to his own seat.

“My hands are pretty burned. I am fine,” he said. “I am shaken up. I am happy to be here.”

Jafry said the incident was under control within minutes, crediting the crew and nearby passengers for the rapid response.

Another passenger, Richelle Keepman, told CNN affiliate WDIV-TV that the experience was terrifying.

“I think we all thought we weren’t going to land, we weren’t going to make it,” Keepman said.

One person was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, hospital spokeswoman Tracy Justice said.

“All passengers have deplaned and, out of an abundance of caution, the plane was moved to a remote area,” where the plane and baggage were rescreened, the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement. Passengers were interviewed by law enforcement authorities before being allowed to leave the airport.

No other suspicious materials were found on the plane or in luggage, the law enforcement and airline security sources said. The suspect had only carry-on luggage.

Another passenger on the Northwest flight transferred from the same KLM flight in Amsterdam, but officials found no connection between the two, the sources said.

The plane, an Airbus 330, landed shortly before noon. It was carrying 278 passengers.

Meanwhile, to those of you who still think this is not a clash of civilizations, consider the timing of this attempted attack.

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