A man aboard a Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit allegedly tried to ignite small explosives as the aircraft was preparing to land. Passengers said they smelled smoke and saw a small glow near where the man was sitting. As soon as people realized what the man was trying to do, he was subdued by passengers and crew and brought to the front of the plane.
At this point, any affiliation to terror groups is unknown, and it appears he was acting alone. Nevertheless, Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said, “This was the real deal … This could have been devastating.”
According to the New York Times, “It was unclear how the man, identified by federal officials as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, managed to get the explosive on the plane, an Airbus A330 wide-body jet carrying 278 passengers that departed from Amsterdam with passengers who had originated in Nigeria. A senior administration official said that the government did not yet know whether the man had had the capacity to take down the plane.
“A senior Department of Homeland Security official said that the materials Mr. Abdulmutallab had on him were “more incendiary than explosive,” and that he had tried to ignite them to cause a fire as the airliner was approaching Detroit.”
For his part, Abdulmutallab said he mixed a powdery substance taped to his leg with liquid from a syringe. Rep. King said, “[The device] appears to be different from explosive devices that have been used before. That is perhaps why it escaped detection. Maybe that is why it made it through.”
President Obama was briefed throughout the day as the situation unfolded. Passengers may notice a change in airport security measures at U.S. airports. Airports in Europe, where the flight originated, have stepped up measures. Police in London are conducting a related search, as Abdulmutallab is thought to have been a student at University College in London.