We now know that a Nigerian passenger aboard the flight attempted and failed to detonate some explosive device strapped to his leg on Christmas Day while the U.S. airliner was about to land at Detroit Metro Airport with 278 people on board.
According to media reports, a 23-year-old Nigerian man, identified as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, was subdued and isolated by Jasper Schuringa, a video director and producer from Amsterdam, who was instrumental in stopping the Nigerian national from blowing up the plane. The passenger ” tried to explode powder taped to his leg with a syringe full of chemicals,” the NY Daily News reported.
AC: Schuringa said he heard a sound that reminded him of a firecracker and someone yelling, “Fire! Fire!” “I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away,” Schuringa said. He said he screamed for water and pulled Abdulmutallab out of his seat and dragged him to the front of the plane. Schuringa told CNN that Abdulmutallab seemed out of it and “was staring into nothing.”
To ensure Abdulmutalla did not have other explosives on his body, Schuringa stripped off his clothes. He then handcuffed the alleged attacker with the help of a crew member. Schuringa said the other passengers applauded as he returned to his seat. He says that he sustained minor injuries during the take down. “My hands are pretty burned. I am fine,” he said. “I am shaken up. I am happy to be here.”
Even with the initial official impression that the suspect, who is an engineering student at the University College in London, was acting alone and did not have ties to a terrorist organisation, there are unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports that he was a trained al-Qaeda operative. Abdulmutallab was quoted in a U.S. federal security bulletin to have admitted his intent to set a bomb off on the flight over the United States and to have extremist ties. Abdulmutallab also said the explosive device “was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used.”
The suspect’s father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, who is a former Nigerian First Bank chairman, minister and prominent banker, has been uncomfortable, according to media reports, with the boy’s extreme religious views. Six months ago he reported his son’s activities to United States’ Embassy and Nigerian security agencies.
Sources close to him say he was surprised that after his reports to the U.S. authorities, the young man, who is currently being treated for second-degree burns at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, was allowed to travel to the U.S.