A passenger, reportedly linked to terrorist organization al-Qaeda, set off an explosive device aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, injuring himself and two other passengers, law enforcement officials said Friday.
The passenger, identified as a Nigerian citizen who tried to blow up the plane but the explosive device failed, told investigators he had acquired the explosive in Yemen, along with instructions as to when it should be used. The Nigerian citizen also claimed, according to ABC, to be an al-Qaeda member. Authorities however, say the credibility of the suspect’s statements are being questioned.
Delta spokeswoman (Northwest is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta) Susan Chana Elliott said the incident occurred during the plane’s descent in Detroit. The “passenger caused a disturbance” by attempting to ignite what was initially reported to be firecrackers. The man was “subdued immediately,” Elliott said.
President Obama, who is vacationing with his family in Hawaii, was notified about the incident and held a conference call with his national security team.
White House spokesman Bill Burton said the President is monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates. According to Burton, the President has instructed his aides “that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel”.
The Northwest plane, an Airbus 330, was carrying 278 passengers.
Update: Delta Air Lines (DAL) issued a statement regarding the incident onboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253:
“Upon approach to Detroit, a passenger caused a disturbance onboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. The passenger was subdued immediately and the crew requested that law enforcement meet the flight upon arrival. The flight, operated by Northwest using an Airbus 330-300 aircraft with 278 passengers onboard, landed safely. The passenger was taken into custody and questioned by law enforcement authorities. Delta is cooperating fully with authorities and additional questions should be directed to law enforcement officials who are leading the investigation.”
Source: Delta Air Lines