Video: Northwest 253 passengers tell of thwarted terror attack; Update: Bomber’s dad reported him to feds? Update: Hoekstra says “may” have been in contact with Awlaki

posted at 10:19 am on December 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

A crew from WXYZ-TV in Detroit managed to interview a few of the passengers from Northwest 253 after the attempted terrorist attack by a self-proclaimed member of al-Qaeda attempted to blow it up. The passengers apparently learned the lesson from United 93 on 9/11, which is that when anyone threatens the plane, everyone becomes a security officer and acts accordingly. They stopped the terrorist before he could do any more harm, both to himself and others, but the description raises a few questions (via North Star National):

One passenger says that the terrorist’s pants were “on fire,” which corroborates the reports of severe burns he suffered. However, the next passenger interviewed reported that the terrorist was calm, not in shock at all. In other terrorist attacks, such as in Mumbai and Afghanistan, the terrorists got themselves so high on drugs that they were unable to feel pain. It sounds as if that may have been the case here, because anyone who had those kinds of burns — by some report, third-degree burns — would not be sitting calmly unless heavily medicated.

And that again prompts the question: how the hell did this guy get through security in Amsterdam?

Update (AP): The Telegraph says the bomber might have studied in London as recently as last year. As for the security breach:

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, one of Europe’s busiest, enforces European carry-on luggage regulations including only allowing liquids in containers of 100ml or less that must be placed inside clear plastic bags. Connecting passengers, including those at Schiphol, should routinely reclear security when connecting from another country…

Airports in Nigeria do not typically conduct tests for explosive residue on passengers’ carry-on baggage and shoes. However, a spokesman for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria said the airport in Lagos had cleared a US Transportation Security Administration audit in November…

Kieran Daly, an expert in aviation security, said that installing the type of security at airports to combat terrorism of the kind attempted on the Christmas Day Detroit-bound flight could be extremely costly and take a very long time. “The global task of getting that equipment installed will be very, very difficult within the sort of timescale that is required,” he said.

“The latest incident could in some respects be described as a success in that it shows that would-be terrorists are now having to resort to trying to get very small devices on board planes. Thanks to increased security, the sort of devices are now not big enough to actually bring down a plane. The terrorists have had to resort to more and more inadequate devices and they are a very long way from actually bringing down an aircraft.”

The bomber now claims he’s not linked to Al Qaeda. How’d he end up in that terror database then?

Update (AP): “I took him in a choke to the first class and all the people were like, ‘What’s going on?!”

Update (AP): A Nigerian paper says the bomber’s own father dropped a dime on him after his son’s jihadist invective started to freak him out.

The older Mutallab, as at the time of filing this report, had just left his Katsina hometown for Abuja to speak with security agencies, family sources say. According to the family members, Mutallab has been uncomfortable with the boy’s extreme religious views and had six months ago reported his activities to United States’ Embassy, Abuja and Nigerian security agencies.

The older Mutallab was said to be devastated on hearing the news of Abdul Farouk’s attempted bombing and arrest. A source close to him said he was surprised that after his reports to the US authorities, the young man was allowed to travel to the United States…

At the secondary school, he was known for preaching about Islam to his school mates and he was popularly called �Alfa�, a local coinage for Islamic scholar. After his secondary school, the suspect went to University College London to study engineering and later relocated to Egypt, and then Dubai. While in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, he declared to his family members that he did not want to have anything to do with any of them again.

Update (Ed): Hmmmm.  An indirect connection to Nidal Hasan and the Fort Hood shootings?  Via Mediate and Politico:

There was a suggestion of links between Abdulmutallab and radical US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, who had contacts with the US army psychiatrist accused of gunning down 13 people at a Texas military base last month.

“He may have been in contact with the American imam al-Aulaqi,” Peter Hoekstra, the most senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a member of Congress for Michigan, told AFP.

“There are reports that he had contact and that he was recently in Yemen. The question we’ll have to raise is was this imam in Yemen influential enough to get some people to attack the US again.”

This sounds purely speculative at the moment, unless Hoekstra reveals more in an interview on Fox News Sunday tomorrow.  But if it’s true, it sounds as though Anwar al-Awlaki may have been trying to take command of a more active wing of the al-Qaeda network all by himself.  Too bad Awlaki may have survived that attack in Yemen after all.


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