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What Exactly Happened on Northwest Flight 253?

December 28, 2009 at 8:39 AM | by | Comments (0)

The usually uneventful stream of news over the long Christmas holiday took a sharp turn this year with one security breach after another. Just when we had heard enough about the crazy lady who knocked down the Pope during mass at the Vatican, BreakingNews tweeted this at 2:30pm on Christmas Day:

Passenger on flight from Detroit to Amsterdam reportedly sets off firecrackers, then subdued. Minor injuries. -- CNN

First we thought okay, this is some extremely stupid person taking the traditional applause-at-landing a bit too far, but then the real news began to roll in, marking it as a terrorist attempt with explosive materials and possible al Qaeda links. And yet nothing concrete was known; many rumors were thrown around and still are, but we've attempted to sort them out and present the factual events that happened on December 25th, 2009, on Northwest/Delta Flight 253.

See the truth, after the jump.

After combing through up-to-date news reports on the incidents (because Flight 253 had two incidents over two days), we've discovered these to be the important facts:

· Northwest/Delta flight 253 landed safely at Detroit-Metro (DTW) airport at 11:53 am EST on 12/25, with 278 passengers in the Airbus 300.

· Approximately 20 minutes before landing at Detoit, the passenger in seat 19A, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who attended the University College London for engineering, spent significant time in the lavatory and then returned to his seat, claiming stomach problems.

· Abdulmutallab paid cash for the one-way flight, had no luggage, and was already on a watch list for two years, from the US National Counterterrorism Center.

· He pulled the blanket over his head and lit a device, which caused a small fire that spread at his feet to the airline pillows on the floor. The fire was put out by passengers who acted quickly, specifically Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch man on his way to a vacation in Miami. Jasper helped flight crew restrain Abdulmutallab, who has third degree burns, and move him the front row for the plane's landing.

· The explosive device on Abdulmutallab was a rigged-up, six-inch packet of high explosives called PETN, along with a syringe. It was sewed into Abdulmutallab's underpants.

· The "Christmas Day terrorist," as Abdulmutallab is now being called, was taken to a Michigan hospital and is in custody. He claims al Qaeda connections and training in one of their Yemen camps.

· The same flight—Northwest 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit—saw another security scare yesterday when a Nigerian man locked himself in the bathroom for an hour, also claiming stomach problems. This man was also taken into custody, but found to be a legitimate businessman and released.

Related Stories:
· TSA and DHS Statements on Northwest flight 253 [TSA]
· Second incident aboard Northwest 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit [Huff Post]
· Fear and heroism about Northwest Airlines Flight 253 after attempted bombing [Wash Post]
· Breaking News [Jaunted]

[Photo: Reuters]

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