Early news accounts indicated that a passenger on a Delta/Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit set off fireworks shortly before landing. Now it’s being reported that the passenger tried to blow up the airplane:
A Northwest Airlines passenger landing in Detroit on Friday tried to blow up the flight but the explosive device failed, two U.S. national security officials said…”He appears to have had some kind of incendiary device he tried to ignite,” said one of the U.S. officials. …
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.”
It sounds as though this would-be terrorist, like shoe bomber Richard Reid, was stopped by quick action by fellow passengers. So far, no information about the perpetrator has been made public.
UPDATE: The man is now being described as a Nigerian who claims to have been acting at the direction of al Qaeda and to have been using explosives acquired in Yemen. For reasons not yet clear, authorities are expressing skepticism about the al Qaeda affiliation. The individual reportedly was in the government’s terrorism database but not on the no-fly list.
MORE: The would-be bomber has now been identified as Abdul Mudallad, a Nigerian. The Associated Press, with its trademark sense of humor, says that “[t]he motive of the Christmas Day attack was not immediately clear.”