Wire: Al-Qaida Link in Domestic Plane Attack, White House Says Terrorism
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 25, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that a Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria, who said he was acting on al-Qaida's instructions, tried to blow up the plane Friday as it was landing in Detroit, law enforcement and national security officials said.
The Associated Press reported that passengers subdued the man and may have prevented him from detonating the explosives, the officials said.
"We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism," a White House official said.AP also reported that the official said the airline threat level was not being raised.
Federal officials imposed stricter screening measures after the incident.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., ranking GOP member of the House Homeland Security Committee, identified the suspect as Abdul Mudallad, a Nigerian. King said the flight began in Nigeria and went through Amsterdam en route to Detroit. There were 278 passengers aboard the Airbus 330.
There was nothing out of the ordinary until the flight was on final approach to Detroit, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. That is when the pilot declared an emergency and landed without incident shortly thereafter, Cory said in an e-mail message. The plane landed at 11:51 a.m. EST.
One of the U.S. intelligence officials said the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate it.
The passenger was being questioned Friday evening. An intelligence source said the Nigerian passenger was being held and treated in an Ann Arbor, Mich., hospital.
All the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.
One law enforcement source said the man claimed to have been instructed by al-Qaida to detonate the plane over U.S. soil.
The official said an official determination of a terrorist act would have to come from the attorney general.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Source: AP sources: Al-Qaida link in failed plane attack