An attempted terrorist attack on a Christmas Day flight began with a pop and a puff of smoke — sending passengers scrambling to subdue a Nigerian man who claimed to be acting on orders from al Qaeda to blow up the airliner.
The commotion began as Northwest Airlines Flight 253, carrying 278 passengers and 11 crewmembers from Amster-dam, prepared to land in Detroit on Friday. Travellers said they smelled smoke, saw a glow. “It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase,” said Peter Smith, a passenger. Smith said a passenger tried to restrain a man who officials say was trying to ignite an explosive device.
The White House said it believed it was an attempted act of terrorism and stricter security measures were quickly imposed on airline travel.
Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. An official said he claimed to have been instructed by al Qaeda to explode the plane over US soil.