[Guest post by DRJ]
A Northwest Airbus carrying 278 passengers landed safely in Detroit following an al Qaeda-linked terrorist attack:
“The White House said it believed it was an attempted act of terrorism and stricter security measures were quickly imposed on airline travel, but were not specified.
Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. Others had slightly different spellings.
One law enforcement source said the man claimed to have been instructed by al-Qaida to detonate the plane over U.S. soil.
“It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase,” said Peter Smith, a passenger from the Netherlands. “First there was a pop, and then (there) was smoke.”
At least one passenger acted heroically.
Smith said the passenger, sitting opposite the man, climbed over passengers, went across the aisle and tried to restrain the man. The heroic passenger appeared to have been burned.”
The flight originated in Nigeria with a stop in Amsterdam. An unnamed U.S. intelligence official said “the explosive device was a mix of powder and liquid” and it failed when the Nigerian suspect tried to detonate it. He is reportedly being held and treated in an Ann Arbor hospital.
Merry Christmas from al Qaeda.
UPDATE — Via the Ace of Spades:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you John Murtha, Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee:
U.S. Rep. John Murtha told reporters Tuesday that he isn’t convinced al-Qaida is still a threat to national security.
Murtha said he visited Kuwait and Afghanistan during Thanksgiving and approves of the military’s strategy, but expressed a need to measure progress in Afghanistan.
“I don’t agree there is a threat to national security,” Murtha said, while not ruling out the possibility that he could be wrong about al-Qaida’s influence. “They keep saying they’ve defeated al-Qaida.”
UPDATE 2: I notice the White House acknowledged this was an “attempted act of terrorism” although the Department of Homeland Security calls it an “incident.” Thankfully neither used the term “man-caused disaster:”
“SPIEGEL: Madame Secretary, in your first testimony to the US Congress as Homeland Security Secretary you never mentioned the word “terrorism.” Does Islamist terrorism suddenly no longer pose a threat to your country?
Napolitano: Of course it does. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word “terrorism,” I referred to “man-caused” disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”
UPDATE 3: Rep. Peter King says the suspect was on a list “indicating significant terrorist connections.”
UPDATE 4: The suspect is reported to be an engineering student at the University College of London, and claims of an al Qaeda link are being questioned:
“The suspect — an engineering student at University College of London, according to ABC News and NBC News — began his trip Thursday from Nigeria. It was not clear Friday whether Mutallab underwent security screening in Amsterdam or merely changed planes there.
It also was uncertain Friday night whether the suspect had ties to a terrorist organization or had attempted the attack on his own, authorities said. Despite earlier reports that he had claimed a connection to Al Qaeda, Mutallab denied any such link in later statements to FBI agents interrogating him, the anti-terrorism official said.
“Right now he is saying he was not part of an organization or a coordinated effort. I want to caution people from jumping headlong into the Al Qaeda link because it’s a very murky area,” the official said.”
The report also indicates the suspect had an incendiary powder in a container taped to his leg that he triggered by injecting liquid via a syringe.