From The National Post
Attempted plane bomber has Al-Qaeda ties
Published: Friday, December 25, 2009
DETROIT — A Nigerian man linked to al Qaeda tried to set off an explosive device aboard a U.S. passenger plane as it approached Detroit on Friday, but was overpowered by passengers and crew and the plane landed safely, U.S. officials said.
The suspect suffered third degree burns and was taken into custody. The passengers, two of whom suffered minor injuries, left the Delta Air Lines plane, which had departed from Amsterdam.
“We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism,” a White House official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. President Barack Obama is on vacation in Hawaii and was monitoring the situation.
Representative Peter King, who sits on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, said the explosive device was “fairly sophisticated,” and the suspect was a 23-year-old Nigerian.
“When it did go off, he himself was seriously injured. He has third degree burns. … It appears to be different from what we’ve encountered before,” Mr. King told Fox News.
Speaking to CNN, King, a New York Republican, said the suspect “did appear in a database as far as having a terrorist connection.”
“My understanding is … that he does have al Qaeda connections, certainly extremist terrorist connections, and his name popped up pretty quickly” in a search of intelligence data bases, Mr. King said.
The aircraft was moved to a remote area at Detroit’s airport where all baggage was being rescreened, said the Transportation Security Administration .
The aircraft, Northwest Airlines flight 253, was an Airbus 330 carrying 278 passengers. Delta Air Lines has taken over Northwest.
Mr. King said the suspect started his journey in Nigeria.
“How sophisticated he was, I don’t know,” Mr. King said. “But again, it was a fairly sophisticated device. I would say we dropped the ball on this one.”
“Passengers may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights,” the Department of Homeland Security said a statement.
Mr. King said there was an investigation into whether the incident may have been part of a larger plot. There is a”world-wide alert to make sure this is not part of a larger overall scheme,” said Mr. King.
© Thomson Reuters 2009