More details on Detroit’s would-be plane bomber

A more detailed account of the plot, foiled by passenger intervention and bomb malfunction, via the New York Times:

A Nigerian man who said he was an agent for al-Qaida tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane Friday as it was preparing to land in Detroit, but travelers who smelled smoke and heard what sounded like firecrackers rushed to subdue him, the passengers and federal officials said. Flight 253 with 278 passengers and 11 crew members aboard was about 20 minutes from the airport when passengers heard popping noises, witnesses said. At least one person climbed over others and jumped on the man. Shortly afterward, the suspect was taken to the front of the plane with his pants cut off and his legs burned, a passenger said. One U.S. intelligence official said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.

”It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase,” said Peter Smith, a traveler from the Netherlands. ”First there was a pop, and then (there) was smoke.” Smith said a passenger sitting opposite the man climbed over people, went across the aisle and tried to restrain the man. Syed Jafri, another passenger, said he saw a glow and smelled smoke. Then, he said, ”a young man behind me jumped on him…Next thing you know, there was a lot of panic.” Smith said the heroic passenger appeared to have been burned.

In 2003, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden purportedly marked Nigeria for liberation in a recording posted on the Internet, calling on Muslims in the oil-rich country to rise up against one of the ”regimes who are slaves of America.” But links to al-Qaida remained rare, though security forces claimed to break up such a linked terror cell in November 2007.

“Smith” is actually Jasper Schuringa. I don’t use the word “heroic” likely, so it says something that I included the NYTimes writeup of the phrase.

Via Sahara Reporters, brief biographical information on the suspect himself, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. As Andrew Sullivan describes the not uncommon jihadist demographic, Mutallab is an example of a very bourgeois would-be bomber:

He is the son of the recently retired Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Umaru Abdul Mutallab. The Al-Qaida-linked Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab is an engineering student at University College London.  Saharareporters sources have revealed that prior to his sojourn in the UK, Farouk had studied at the prestigious British School of Lome, Togo. Where he passed his International Bacchalaureates Diploma before moving to UCL.

Dr. Mutallab himself had publically expressed concerns about his son’s “increasingly extreme” religious views, and was even surprised he was allowed to fly in the US. I am also surprised, given that authorities knew Mutallab the younger was in contact with Anwar Awlaki, the radical cleric who was also in correspondence with Maj. Nidal Hasan, of November’s massacre.

The link also details the fact that Mutallab the younger’s claim to al-Qaeda membership is genuine. The plan for Detriot was planned in Yemen.

So al-Qaeda’s next attack on the US happened yesterday. Fortunately, it was a dud.

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