Terrorist Tries to Blow Up Plane During Final Approach
The AP via YellowBrix
December 26, 2009
WASHINGTON — – In what was described as an act of terrorism, a Nigerian passenger attempted to ignite an incendiary device Friday aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit as the plane began its approach for landing, federal officials said. The plane landed safely shortly before noon.
The suspected would-be bomber suffered burns as the result of his attempt, and two of the other 277 passengers reported minor injuries, authorities said. FBI agents were investigating the incident, which a White House official said was thought to be an attempted act of terrorism.
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“He was trying to ignite some kind of incendiary device,” said a federal anti-terrorism official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. “He lit himself on fire, and he’s suffered some burns.”
The official did not reveal the nature of the explosive device and said it was too early to say how potent or sophisticated it was. The passenger has been identified as a Nigerian who caught the flight in Amsterdam, the anti-terrorism official said.
The Northwest flight, on an Airbus 330, was operated by Delta Airlines and had Delta markings. The two companies merged in April 2008.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the Christmas Day incident during his vacation in Hawaii and was receiving regular updates.
A White House statement said the president conferred with John Brennan, his homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, and with Denis McDonough, acting chief of staff of the National Security Council, and had instructed that “all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel.”
The Department of Homeland Security said passengers might see additional screening measures on domestic and international flights because of the incident and urged travelers to report any suspicious activity or behavior to law enforcement officials.
“We encourage those with future travel plans to stay in touch with their airline and to visit www.tsa.gov for updates,” the department said.
Syed Jafri, a U.S. citizen who had flown from the United Arab Emirates, said the incident occurred during the plane’s descent, according to the Associated Press. Jafri said he was seated three rows behind the other passenger and said he saw a glow and noticed the smell of smoke. Then “a young man behind me jumped on him.”
“Next thing you know, there was a lot of panic,” Jafri said.