– CHRISTMAS TERROR PLOT – FLIGHT 253
Senior USA officials said it was a failed bomb attack which occurred when Northwest flight 253 was coming in to land at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Umar Abdulmutallab injured himself trying to ignite an explosive device on the jet, with 278 passengers on board, but nobody else was seriously hurt. In custody Umar Abdulmutallab said he had been acting on behalf of Al Qaeda and that he wanted to set off a bomb over the United States, a police source told AP news agency. Umar Abdulmutallab claimed that the device was obtained in Yemen along with instructions from Al Qaeda on using it (see also -Shabwa Air-Strike) .
A passenger said Umar Abdulmutallab had spent around 20 minutes in the aircraft’s bathroom before returning to his seat. He had been severely burned on one leg and a fire extinguisher was used at one point. Another witness said “a young man behind me jumped on him”. The man who subdued Umar Abdulmutallab was later identified as Jasper Schuringa, a young film director from Amsterdam.
As Umar Abdulmutallab was being tackled, he was reportedly shouting and a passenger said she had heard the word “Afghanistan”.
Umar Abdulmutallab later told the USA investigators he had explosive powder of about 80gr smuggled into the aircraft in a plastic bag stitched in his underwear and he used a syringe of chemicals, possibly a glycol-based liquid, to mix with the powder that was to cause explosion. Then he laid the explosive on his knees covered with a pillow. An USA intelligence official quoted by AP said an explosive device had been used consisting of a “mix of powder and liquid”.
Peter King, a New York Republican, who sits on the USA House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, reported details of the incident in interviews for USA TV channels. “He [the suspect] has third-degree burns,” he said. He added that the suspect appeared to have “Al Qaeda connections, certainly extremist terrorist connections”. Umar Abdulmutallab was known in federal counterterrorism files but he was not on the American “no-fly list” of suspicious passengers banned from flying in the United States, Peter King said. King said the incident raised troubling questions about airline security. “It must be looked into” how Abdulmutallab was able to sneak a “somewhat sophisticated device” on board.
The FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating, and a robot was used to check the plane at one stage.
* A preliminary FBI analysis found the explosive in the device that Umar Abdulmutallab had on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was Pentaerythritol tetranitrate. It is a colorless, crystalline material that is highly explosive and in the same chemical family as nitroglycerin. It is generally stored and shipped as a mixture with water. The FBI also found what appeared to be the remnants of a liquid-filled syringe, believed to have been part of the device.
* The USA homeland security chief Janet Napolitano said, on Sunday 12/27/2009 evening, there was no evidence to suggest any links to a wider plot. Investigators have found no evidence that the man arrested for allegedly trying to blow up a US airliner on Friday was part of a larger plot, she said. But American law enforcement officials, quoted anonymously by US media, have said Umar Abdulmutallab confessed to receiving specific training for the attack from an Al Qaeda bomb maker in Yemen (see – Ex-Gitmo footage).
* Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took, on Monday 12/28/2009 evening, through Jihadi websites, responsible on the Flight 253 attack. In yet another development, USA Senator Joe Liberman admitted that USA Special Forces are operating in Yemen for some time helping to train the Yemeni elite forces and to track down Al Qaeda. The group also urged the killing of Western embassy workers in the region as part of an “all-out war on crusaders”.
* Yemen confirmed, on Tuesday 12/29/2009, that Umar Abdulmutallab stayed in Yemen the last time from 08/2009 up to early 12/2009. There is, therefore, no doubt that the Flight 253 attack was planed and prepared in Yemen by Al Qaeda segments led, in large extent, by former Guantanamo inmates who were released to Saudi Arabia, went through rehabilitation program, and then went to reform Al Qaeda cells in Yemen (see – 83 Wanted List). It is the same infrastructure that committed the failed attempt, on 08/27/2009, on the life of the Saudi prince Muhammad bin Nayef (see – Jeddah 08.27.09). The last development raises questions about the plan to release and repatriate about 50 Guantanamo detainees in Yemen in the next coming months (see – Gitmo 12.20.09).