By Worthy News North America Service with Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos
WASHINGTON/AMSTERDAM (Worthy News)-- The White House said Saturday, December 26, that a small explosion aboard an international flight bound for the U.S. city of Detroit was "an attempted act of terrorism."
Passengers on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit said they heard a loud noise as the plane was getting ready to land.
"We heard a loud pop and a bit of smoke and then some flames, and then yelling and screaming," added one passenger.
Counterintelligence officials said a Nigerian engineering student, identified as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, tried to blow up the plane shortly before it landed.
Jasper Schuringa, a director from Amsterdam, has been identified as the passenger who helped subdue the alleged terrorist.
Schuringa told the Cable News Network (CNN) that he heard a sound similar to a firecracker as the Detroit-bound flight was preparing to land. After seeing smoke, he apparently noticed a burning object between Mutallab's legs. "I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away," Schuringa told CNN.
Schuringa said his hands were "pretty burned" after the incident, but added that the injuries were minor. "I am fine. I am shaken up. I am happy to be here."
Security officials suggested that Mutallab apparently used a syringe to inject a chemical into powder located near his groin, a technique not seen in previous attempted attacks.
Schuringa said Mutallab "was staring into nothing" after the failed attempt to blow up the plane.
The name of the 23-year-old student also appeared on a U.S. intelligence watch list, but Dutch officials said the United States had approved the passengers list before the plane took off.
Mutallab, an engineering student who studied in Britain, reportedly told investigators he was acting on instructions from al-Qaida and got the explosive materials in Yemen.
There was no immediate confirmation, but New York Congressman Peter King, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, said he was worried about these development.
"How he was able to get on in Nigeria [and make it to] Amsterdam, which is a visa waiver country...How he was able to get through and make it this far with the devices he had, these are all issues that have to be resolved," King told reporters.
Special security forces meanwhile were seen entering a London apartment where the man had stayed, apparently to search for more evidence and possible explosives.
In the Netherlands, the office of the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism (NCTb) said the Nigerian arrived from Lagos at Schiphol Airport Amsterdam.
The agency admitted that the reported fire works that caused the explosion may not have been noticed by security personnel when the man boarded the plane for Detroit.
SECURITY CHECK TROUBLES
"Altough the security check was done according [international] rules, it is possible that potentially dangerous objects can be brought on board...especially objects that are difficult to find with the current security technology like metal detection," the NCTb said in a statement monitored by BosNewsLife.
The NCTb said American authorities have requested airlines around the world to take "additional security measures" for flights to the united States "for an unspecified period." No more details were given.
In Washington, the White House revealed that U.S. President Barack Obama ordered security measures to be stepped up at all U.S. airports. Security officials were also encouraging passengers to be observant and report any suspicious activity.
IntelCenter, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring group that works with the U.S. government, has warned the Christmas day attack could be just the start. It said there is the possibility of additional terror attempts on U.S. airplanes.