Man attempts to set off explosives on plane

December 25, 2009 8:33:34 PM PST
The White House says that this was an attempted act of terrorism. Thankfully, it was a clumsy attempt and everyone made it off the flight alive, but if you plan on flying during this holiday week, expect extra security here at the airport.

Passengers on board Delta-Northwest Airlines flight 253 were looking forward to a Christmas homecoming.

Instead, a fellow passenger tried to blow up their plane by partially detonating an explosive powder he had strapped to his body by injecting it with chemicals he'd smuggled on in a syringe.

"We heard a loud pop, and a bit of a smoke, some flames and yelling and screaming," said Flight 253 passenger, Illiaa Schelke.

Brave passengers on board the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit rushed to stop the suspect from inflicting any more damage.

Another passenger explained, "We saw like fumes and then there was a flame fire coming out and there was another man that jumped on the assailant and the guy who was responsible. And I was trying to figure out why are they bringing a fire extinguisher? They managed to put out the fire and fumes. There was a lot of panic, about 3 or 4 minutes during the event."

The quick-thinking passengers managed to subdue the suspect and hold him until police came on board after the plane landed.

23-year old Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab is apparently telling officials that he was taking orders from Al Qaida to blow up a plane over US soil.

Mudallad went through airport security when he first started his journey in Nigeria, but the incident has prompted an increase in airport security here in the U.S. during the busy holiday travel season.

The Department of Homeland Security says, "Passengers may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights."

At LaGuardia Airport tonight, passengers say they welcome the additional protection.

"I don't want to be slowed anymore than I have to, but it's a process and I go along with it," said passenger, Eric Vardi.

Mudallad is being treated for burns, and one other passenger is also being treated for injuries.

If you're traveling during the holiday season, it's best to arrive a little early to allow extra time for the added security.

To read more from ABC News: CLICK HERE.


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