A Nigerian disrupts transatlantic flight to Detroit

The Northwest Airlines Flight 253

The firecrackers caused panic on board the plane

Nigerian Bomber, Abdul Mudallad linked to Al Qaeda – The passenger on board a transatlantic Northwest Airlines flight who set off firecrackers as it was arriving in the US city of Detroit, could be a Nigerian.

BBC Television 24 News says the passenger is either a Nigerian or travelled from Nigeria through Amsterdam. The blast caused panic on board the Airbus 330, which had flown from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Several people were slightly injured.

The passenger detained on an airplane in Detroit Christmas morning was acting on behalf of Al Qaeda and attempted but failed to detonate an explosive device, U.S. officials told AP Friday evening. Earlier reports had said that the passenger had merely set off firecrackers after the plane had landed.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said the president held a conference call with Homeland Security and counter-terror adviser John Brennan and NSC chief of staff Denis McDonough after being notified about the incident on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) identified the suspect as Abdul Mudallad, a Nigerian, and said the flight began in Nigeria before stopping in Amsterdam on the way to Detroit.

Burton’s full statement:

“The President was notified of the incident this morning between 9:00 and 9:30 Hawaii time by the President’s military aide. The President subsequently convened a secure conference call with John Brennan, his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Adviser, and Denis McDonough, NSC Chief of Staff. He asked to arrange a subsequent secure call and in that call instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel. The President is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates. There is currently no change to his schedule.”

 The passenger suspected of setting off the firecrackers was subdued and taken into custody.An FBI spokeswoman told the BBC the agency was investigating.

Susan Elliott, spokeswoman for Delta Airlines – the parent company of Northwest – said 278 passengers were on board Flight 253 when the incident took place at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Friday afternoon.

The flight landed safely at the airport just before 1200 local time (1700 GMT).At least one passenger was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor.The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating.

The BBC’s Imtiaz Tyab in Washington says many questions are being raised about how the passenger managed to bring the firecrackers on board.

In a statement, the US Transportation Security Administration said a search of the aircraft and all baggage was taking place in a “remote area”.