Northwest passenger who tried to blow up Detroit-bound flight linked to al-Qaida

WASHINGTON — A Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria, who said he was acting on al-Qaida’s instructions, tried to blow up the plane Friday as it was landing in Detroit, law enforcement and national security officials said.

This picture provided by J.P. Karas shows Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on the runway after arriving at Detroit Metropolitan Airport from Amsterdam on Friday. A passenger aboard the plane set off firecrackers Friday

WASHINGTON — A Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria, who said he was acting on al-Qaida’s instructions, tried to blow up the plane Friday as it was landing in Detroit, law enforcement and national security officials said.

Passengers subdued the man and may have prevented him from detonating the explosives, the officials said.

“We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism,” a White House official said.

Federal officials imposed stricter screening measures after the incident.

Rep. Peter King of New York, the ranking Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee, identified the suspect as Abdul Mudallad, a Nigerian. King said the flight began in Nigeria and went through Amsterdam en route to Detroit. There were 278 passengers aboard the Airbus 330.

There was nothing out of the ordinary until the flight was on final approach to Detroit, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. That is when the pilot declared an emergency and landed without incident shortly thereafter, Cory said in an email message. The plane landed at 11:51 a.m. EST.

One of the U.S. intelligence officials said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.

The passenger was being questioned Friday evening. An intelligence source said the Nigerian passenger was being held and treated in a Michigan hospital.

All the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

One law enforcement source said the man claimed to have been instructed by al-Qaida to detonate the plane over U.S. soil.

The official said an official determination of a terrorist act would have to come from the attorney general.

The official added that additional security measures are being taken without raising the airline threat level.

The official declined to describe what additional measures law enforcement was taking.

The White House was co-ordinating briefings for the president through the Homeland Security Department, the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI.

A law enforcement source said the explosives may have been strapped to the man’s body but investigators weren’t immediately certain, partly because of the struggle with other passengers.

One passenger from the flight was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Tracy Justice said. She didn’t know the person’s condition, or whether the person was a man or woman. She referred all inquiries to the FBI.

Passenger Syed Jafri, a U.S. citizen who had flown from the United Arab Emirates, said the incident occurred during the plane’s descent. Jafri said he was seated three rows behind the passenger and said he saw a glow, and noticed a smoke smell. Then, he said, “a young man behind me jumped on him.”

“Next thing you know, there was a lot of panic,” he said.

Rich Griffith, a passenger from Pontiac, said he was seated too far in the back to see what had happened. But he said he didn’t mind being detained on the plane for several hours. “It’s frustrating if you don’t want to keep your country safe,” he said. “We can’t have what’s going on everywhere else happening here.”

President Barack Obama was notified of the incident and discussed it with security officials, the White House said. It said he is monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates from his vacation spot in Hawaii.

J.P. Karas said he was driving down a road near the airport and saw a Delta jet at the end of the runway, surrounded by police cars, an ambulance, a bus and some TV trucks.

“I don’t ever recall seeing a plane on that runway ever before and I pass by there frequently,” he said.

Karas said it was difficult to tell what was going on, but it looked like the front wheel was off the runway.

“We encourage those with future travel plans to stay in touch with their airline and to visit www.tsa.gov for updates,” Homeland Security Department said in a statement.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been briefed on the incident and is closely monitoring the situation.

The department encouraged travellers to be observant and aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behaviour to law enforcement officials.

———

Jakes reported from Baghdad, Iraq. Randi Berris and Jim Irwin in West Bloomfield, Mich., and Devlin Barrett, Shelley Adler and Joan Lowy in Washington, and Philip Elliott in Oahu, Hawaii, contributed to this report.

Just Posted

More than 100 people participate in the Light the Night Walk in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Michael Wark was 27 when he was diagnosed with cancer.… Continue reading

‘Big bang’ precedes Red Deer house fire, says neighbour

A Red Deer home was heavily damaged by a fire early Friday… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Grilling meat at Shelter Ribfest in Red Deer

The first-ever Shelter Ribfest is on this weekend at Gary W. Harris… Continue reading

Red Deer man arrested, charged for drug-related offences

A Red Deer man is facing a number of charges, including possession… Continue reading

Respect in hockey rinks is often missing

The men and women in stripes have long been scrutinized on the… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: 10 effortlessly stylish items for fall

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Wednesday Central Alberta Historical Society annual general meeting is 6 p.m. at… Continue reading

Trump front and centre as talk of trade, jobs emerges on campaign trail

OTTAWA — A familiar U.S. face finally showed up front and centre… Continue reading

RDC Kings and Queens cross country dominate on home turf

There was a lot of pride floating around amongst the host team… Continue reading

Hunting Hills Lightning cruise past Foothills Falcons in high school football action

The Hunting Hills Lightning showed their Football Alberta ranking was no fluke… Continue reading

Two students dead, several seriously injured in Vancouver Island bus rollover

Two University of Victoria students died and several people were injured after… Continue reading

‘It’s time:’ Paralyzed Bronco returning to Humboldt for first time since crash

For the first time in 526 days, former Broncos hockey player Ryan… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $27 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $27 million jackpot… Continue reading

White House says bin Laden son killed in US operation

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Saturday that Hamza bin Laden ,… Continue reading

Most Read