"Attempted act of terrorism" on plane bound for Detroit

A passenger on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit tried to set off an explosive device, and the White House considers the event an attempted act of terrorism.

From MSNBC.com:

Two people noticed the attempted attack, and a third person jumped on the man and subdued him, an airline official told NBC News. The man was being treated at the burn unit of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, officials said. [...]

Federal officials identified the man as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, of Nigeria, who was traveling one way, without a return ticket.

Rep. Peter King of New York, the senior Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, who was briefed on the incident, said Abdulmutallab was known in federal counterterrorism files and may have been on the government's list of suspicious passengers banned from flying in the United States.

King said the incident raised troubling questions about airline security. "It must be looked into" how Abdulmutallab was able to sneak a "somewhat sophisticated device" on board, he said.

Abdulmutallab told investigators that he wanted to set off a bomb over the United States and claimed to be connected to al-Qaida, the terrorism network responsible for the attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, counterterrorism officials said.

This post will be updated as more news emerges.

Tags: terrorism (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

Re: "Attempted act of terrorism"

It really appears to be the case that an attack by a passenger on an airline flight is impossible. In this case and in the case of the shoe bomber, the only person injured was the miscreant. After 9/11 you'll fight and you'll win because you outnumber them.

by johnmorris 2009-12-25 02:53PM | 0 recs
yes

Before 9/11 passengers had reason to assume that a hijacker was going to force the plane to land somewhere and issue demands. Not now.

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-25 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: yes

Whether the guy can take over the plane is really not the issue, if he has the ability to set off an explosive device.

by Steve M 2009-12-25 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: yes

Indeed, clearly there were failures at the port of entry (reportedly Amsterdam?).

I know Amsterdam airport fairly well. Security checks are conducted at the gates, and compared to place like Heathrow seemed rather lax, but not worryingly so. Atleast not yet.

by vecky 2009-12-25 10:32PM | 0 recs
I wouldn't want to go to Detroit either

But (seriously) not to make light of the incident...

The story appears to be developing rapidly.

From CNN, the WH is calling this an attempted terror attack.

From MSNBC, the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was known in anti-terrorism circles, and was already on the no fly list:

Federal officials identified the man as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, of Nigeria, who was traveling one way, without a return ticket... Rep. Peter King of New York, the senior Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee,..., said Abdulmutallab was known in federal counterterrorism files and may have been on the government's list of suspicious passengers banned from flying in the United States.

There are conflicting reports about the sophistication of the device.

My question is: How did this guy get this device onboard the aircraft in the Netherlands? I thought Europe was supposed to have top rate security?

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-25 03:11PM | 0 recs
did his trip originate in Amsterdam?

Maybe he checked in from a third country and only had to change planes in Amsterdam, the way the 9/11 hijackers checked in at the Portland airport, with more lax security procedures than in Boston.

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-25 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: did his trip originate in Amsterdam?

It appears he was traveling from Nigeria. I had heard other reports of Yemen.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-25 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: did his trip originate in Amsterdam?

The device was sourced in Yemen which is emerging as the next great hot spot.

I wonder which religious conference he was going to attend. Odd that they would let him board without a return ticket since he isn't a US resident.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-25 04:56PM | 0 recs
And on the US No Fly List.

I thought there were very strict provisions against people boarding overseas through less than desirable security and then traveling to the US?

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-25 06:15PM | 0 recs
That does not apply

All passengers bound for the US are subject to additional security in Europe...no matter where they come from.

All EU bound passengers are also subject to additional security in Europe, again no matter where they come from.

If there was a failing in security, then it most certainly was in Amsterdam.

by Ravi Verma 2009-12-25 08:18PM | 0 recs
He didn't

he got on in Nigeria.

by ND22 2009-12-25 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: I wouldn't want to go to Detroit either

I've flown from Lagos to the US via the Netherlands, on my way home from my Capstone project for grad school.  I had 8 hours to kill between flights and went into Amsterdam for a few hours.  I don't remember the security being all that tight when making my connection then (and yes, this was pre-2001).

by Khun David 2009-12-25 05:11PM | 0 recs
Not surprised

Islamic extremism has been gaining across the Sahel.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-25 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Close Call

 I'm relieved that we won't have to change the name of X-Mas to '1225'.

by QTG 2009-12-25 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Close Call

But you have to admit, Bill O'Reilly was right about the War on Christmas.

by Steve M 2009-12-25 04:11PM | 0 recs
Now I just have to think how this is Obama's fault

There has to be a way to blame him or his response.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-25 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Now I just have to think how this is Obama's

Don't worry, there will be those who will be more than willing to accommodate.

by Khun David 2009-12-25 05:12PM | 0 recs
Flight 93 is now the norm

There is no doubt in my mind that the real reason there has not been another hijacking in America is not all the security and barefeet at airports, it's what happened on Flight 93.

I'm not a brave man, nor a very big man, but there is no way in hell I'm going to ever let any plane I'm on go into a building.  I'd rather crash into a field trying to regain the plane than ever just sit there and listen to what I'm told.  Decades ago, we were all told to do what we were told and we would survive.  That's not true any more.  

And this proves it.

by prius04 2009-12-25 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Gotta love FOX

They posted the story on their website's "POLITICS' page. (the link is from the google home page 'news' button, FOX News option)

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/12/ 25/white-house-president-obama-monitorin g-failed-terror-attempt-hawaii/?utm_sour ce=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&ut m_campaign=Feed%253A+foxnews%252Fpolitic s+%2528FOXNews.com+-+Politics%2529

by QTG 2009-12-25 05:01PM | 0 recs
maybe he was "resisting imperialism,"

or at least I'm sure some on the left-blogosphere will try to say. I'm sure MainStreet will come up with something like that.

This shows that radical jihad is still dangerous, still evil, and must be defeated.

by Lakrosse 2009-12-25 06:16PM | 0 recs
It can't be "defeated"

it must be marginalized.

by ND22 2009-12-25 06:22PM | 0 recs
'Sophisticated' device?

This mental case criminal was apparently only able to set his crotch on fire.

There are sensible anti-terrorism measures and those which give only the illusion of safety.  Unfortunately, we keep opting for the latter.

The best security measures are the ones you don't see, which remain hidden and non-obvious.  The other thing which helps is when word is spread that passengers will not sit idly by while a jet is hijacked or threatened.  These are the real deterrents.

Confiscating shampoo bottles and water, making people take off their shoes -- that's all rubbish.  But it makes for good theater.

by Technowitch 2009-12-25 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: "Attempted act of terrorism"

Republicans will try to spin this as Obama "not keeping us safe" (Dick Cheney will emerge from the crypt soon enough to do that).  But the real problem is airport security in Nigeria-that is what broke down here.

by Bob H 2009-12-26 01:10AM | 0 recs
Re: "Attempted act of terrorism"

And Schipol/Amsterdam.

by vecky 2009-12-26 08:56AM | 0 recs

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