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      US-Bound Plane Nearly Bombed By Nigerian, Ties to Al-Qaida

      A Nigerian national claims the Al-Qaida terror group ordered him to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane - a passenger saves the day.
      By Malkah Fleisher
      First Publish: 12/26/2009, 8:42 PM / Last Update: 12/26/2009, 8:37 PM

      photo (file)

      On the same night that IDF soldiers neutralized the terrorists who murdered Shomron resident Rabbi Meir Chai in a shocking drive-by shooting, passengers on an American plane were fighting a terrorist of their own.

      A Nigerian national,Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, claims to have been ordered by the Al-Qaida terror organization to blow up the plane, Northwest Airlines Flight 253, carrying 278 passengers and 11 crew members on December 25.

      As the plane descended for landing in Detroit, passengers report they smelled smoke, heard popping sounds, and saw a flash as Mutallab attempted to ignite an incendiary device he had hidden around his legs. 

      A man sitting in the row opposite to Mutallab leapt over the seats between him and the terrorist, attempting to tackle him.  Flight attendants threw bottled water on the device, which Mutallab had apparently mixed in-flight from powders and a syringe of chemicals brought aboard in his pants legs.

      The New York Times reports that the heroic passenger was Jasper Schuringa, a filmmaker from Amsterdam.  He may have been burned, along with Mutallab, in the altercation.

      After being subdued, the terrorist was brought to the front row, his legs badly burned.  After landing, he was taken off the plane handcuffed to a stretcher.

      Mutallab's father, a prominent Nigerian banker, said his son had studied in a university in London, but had not lived in England for some time.  He suspected that his son might have gone to Yemen.

      University College London issued a statement saying a student of the same name studied mechanical engineering from 2005 – 2008 at the school, but could not confirm that the student was the bomber.  London's Metropolitan Police, in partnership with US officials, are searching an upscale West London neighborhood apartment where Mutallab is said to have lived.

      Nigerian officials have condemned the attack.

      As a result of the incident, major security upgrades have been implemented for flights to the United States.  Manual searches and baggage limitations are among the new stringencies.  Air Canada has employed the strictest security measures, forbidding passengers on flights less than 90 minutes from getting out of their seats, and telling passengers on longer flights that they must stay seated for the last hour of the journey.

      US law enforcement officials suggested that the materials brought onboard by Mutallab would probably be banned.  This may pose a problem for passengers who avail themselves of the ability to bring medications onboard in pre-prepared syringes.

      US President Obama is being updated on investigations as information becomes available.