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Device Was on Fire in Terror Suspect's Lap, Plane Passenger Says

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Cnn: A 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.

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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. He did not undergo secondary security screening in Amsterdam, an administration official 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.

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

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

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.

Delta is the parent company of Northwest.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Cynthia Gee December 26, 2009, 8:23 PM

“He’s upper, upper class terrorist society
God’s gift to Al-Qaeda notoriety
And he always fills his trousers,the device is never small

The papers say that Umar has the hottest balls of them all!

CHORUS
He’s got hot balls, he’s got hot balls
And they’re such hot balls
fancy hot balls

And Abdul’s got hot balls,
And Ali’s got hot balls,
But Umar’s got the hottest balls of them all!

And his balls are always burning
His pants leg always full

And Airline Security comes and comes again
If your name is on the flight list
No one can take you higher

Everybody says Umar’s got great balls of fire!

CHORUS

Some balls are held for charity
And some for fancy dress
But when they’re held for Terrorism,
They’re the balls Umar likes best.

And his balls are always burning,
with a fire that’s oh so bright.

It’s Umar’s belief that his hot balls should be lit on every flight!

Caiya May 21, 2011, 2:09 PM

YouÂ’re a real deep thinker. Thanks for shiarng.


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