— Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s 20-minute trip to the bathroom Friday was
the first hint to passengers of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 that
He came back to seat 19A on the flight from
What no one knew at the time was the 23-year-old Nigerian had an explosive strapped to his body.
Suddenly, passengers heard a loud pop. Abdulmutallab
had tried to detonate the device, filled with PETN — also known as the
highly explosive pentaerythritol — and triggered flames and smoke.
“I just jumped over the seats and jumped over the suspect,” said passenger
“The whole plane was screaming. The suspect didn’t say a word. He was just ablaze. He was just entranced.”
Schuringa, other passengers and the flight crew were
able to subdue Abdulmutallab, believed to be the son of a prominent
Nigerian banker, extinguish the fire and turn the terrorism suspect
over to federal authorities before the attempt turned into a tragedy
over the skies of
Abdulmutallab, who has told federal authorities he was acting on orders from al-Qaida, was arraigned Saturday at the
on charges of trying to destroy an aircraft and place a destructive
device on an aircraft, which carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years
and a fine of
The flight carried 279 passengers from all over the
world, traveling home for the holidays, visiting friends abroad and
trying as hard as they could to catch connecting flights once the
As federal authorities dissect what they’re calling
a terrorist attack, the rest of the world is left wondering how
Abdulmutallab got into the country in the first place.
And how, in light of 9/11 and other attempted and successful terrorist attacks, he got an explosive device on a flight.
who talked with Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan on
Friday, said “this guy had a little more coordination because he had to
get his hands on this device.”
He also apparently had communicated with
“There’s a rather significant connection,” he said. “But thank goodness al-Qaida is still somewhat sloppy.”
As for the device, it was made of plastic, which
wouldn’t be detected by airport metal detectors, and passengers saw
Abdulmutallab holding a smoking syringe that also was used in trying to
detonate the device.
Experts doubted Abdulmutallab’s intended target was
“He was just willing to catch any airliner that would take him anywhere in