A guy who was not supposed to be on an airplane tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight today on its way to Detroit. A 23-year-old Nigerian man tried to light a powdery substance aboard a Northwest Airlines flight before landing in Detroit on Friday. According to ABC News sources, the man claimed he was directed by al Qaeda to set off an explosion on the plane. Two people noticed the attempt ignite the device and a third person jumped on the man and subdued him. The man is being treated at the burn unit of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, officials said.
The TSA issued a statement reading, in part: “All passengers have deplaned and out of an abundance of caution, the plane was moved to a remote area where the plane and all baggage are currently being rescreened. A passenger is in custody, and passengers are being interviewed.”
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Man Attempts to Set Off Explosives on Plane Two Injured in Northwest Airlines Flight From Amsterdam to Detroit
By RICHARD ESPOSITO and SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
Federal officials and police are interviewing a Nigerian man, who allegedly tried to “explode” a powdery substance aboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, injuring himself and two other passengers, law enforcement officials said.
The man said he was directed by al Qaeda to explode a small device in flight, over U.S. soil, ABC News has learned. Authorities have no corroboration of that information, and the credibility of the suspect’s statements are being questioned, officials said.
The man was apparently already on the government’s no-fly list of suspected terrorists, according to a senior intelligence official.
“The subject is claiming to have extremist affiliation and that the device was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used,” a federal situational awareness bulletin stated.
Northwest Airlines flight 253 landed safely in Detroit at 11:53 a.m. The man, flew from Nigeria to Amsterdam and then Detroit, was taken into custody at the Detroit airport and was interviewed by authorities there. He was then taken to an area hospital to be treated for burns.
Delta spokeswoman Susan Chana Elliott said that “as the plane was getting ready to land” in Detroit “a passenger caused a disturbance” by trying to ignite what was reported to be firecrackers.
The man was “subdued immediately,” Elliott said. Northwest is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta.
An in-flight emergency was declared when a fire indicator light when on in the cockpit, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The pilot asked for airport rescue and firefighting services, and for law enforcement to meet the flight at gate, the TSA said.
It is unclear how powerful the explosive could have been and what the man’s intentions were. Initial reports were that fireworks or firecrackers had gone off on the plane.
The man suffered second-degree burns, which is consistent with a small fireworks device, police sources said.
One of the passengers is being treated at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, according to hospital spokeswoman Tracy Justice, who was not sure if it was the suspect or one of the other passengers.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Sandra R. Berchtold from the Detroit office confirmed that the FBI was at the airport, but she would not comment further.
“All passengers have deplaned and out of an abundance of caution, the plane was moved to a remote area where the plane and all baggage are currently being rescreened,” the Transportation Security Administration, which handles aircraft and airplane safety, said in a statement. “A passenger is in custody and passengers are being interviewed.”
The aircraft was an Airbus A330-200, twin-engine jet carrying 278 passengers.