Suspect Charged in Airline Bombing Attempt

This picture provided by J.P. Karas shows Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on the runway after arriving at Detroit Metropolitan Airport from Amsterdam on Friday, Dec. 25, 2009. A passenger aboard the plane set off firecrackers after landing Friday, injuring two people. He was detained and the FBI is investigating. Delta and Northwest merged beginning in 2008. AP Photo/J.P. Karas

Updated 10:37 p.m. EST

The man who allegedly tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines airplane just before landing in Detroit was charged by a federal judge in a Michigan hospital Saturday afternoon.

Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, was charged with attempting to destroy the aircraft and placing a destructive device on the aircraft.

The prosecution will be handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman read Abdulmutallab the charges in a conference room at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. Abdulmutallab reportedly received third-degree burns in the attempted attack.

Reporters present for the arraignment said the spoke English, was polite and attentive and did not appear to be in serious pain. He said that he could not afford legal representation and will be appointed a public defender.

The judge set a detention hearing for Jan. 8. The hearing lasted 20 minutes.

Aides to President Barack Obama are pondering how terror watch lists are used after the botched attack, according to officials who described the discussions Saturday on the condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt possible official announcements.

Abdulmutallab appeared on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database maintained by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, said a U.S. official who received a briefing. Containing some 550,000 names, the database includes people with known or suspected ties to a terrorist organization. However, it is not a list that would prohibit a person from boarding a U.S.-bound airplane.

An official briefed on the attack said the U.S. has known for at least two years that the suspect in the attack could have terrorist ties. The official told The Associated Press that the suspect has been on the list that includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization.

Northwest Airlines Flight 253, carrying 278 passengers and 11 crew members from Amsterdam, was preparing to land in Detroit just before noon Friday.

According to a Justice Department statement, interviews of the flight's passengers and crew revealed that prior to the incident, Abdulmutallab went to the bathroom for approximately 20 minutes. Upon returning to his seat, he complained of an upset stomach and pulled a blanket over himself.

That was when passengers began hearing popping noises - at first described as firecrackers or fireworks - and saw Abdulmutallab's pants leg and the wall of the airplane on fire, according to the Justice Department.

"Passengers and crew then subdued Abdulmutallab and used blankets and fire extinguishers to put out the flames," the statement read. "Passengers reported that Abdulmutallab was calm and lucid throughout. One flight attendant asked him what he had had in his pocket, and he replied 'explosive device.'"

"It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase," said Peter Smith, a passenger from the Netherlands. "First there was a pop, and then (there) was smoke."

Smith said one passenger, sitting opposite the man, climbed over passengers, went across the aisle and tried to restrain the man. The heroic passenger appeared to have been burned.

The passenger who pounced on the suspect was later , a director from Amsterdam. In extinguishing the explosive device, Schuringa told CNN he suffered minor burns to his hands.

More Coverage from CBSNews.com:
Terror Investigation Spans Continents
Official: U.S. Knew of Suspect for 2 Years
U.S. Bolsters Security after Bomb Attack
Report: Father Warned of Bomb Suspect Son
Official: Explosive PETN Used in Attack
Jasper Schuringa ID'd as Flight 253 Hero
Failed Attack Signals New Threat?
Safety in the Air
Fight 253 Terror Scare
Obama Monitors 'Terror' Attempt

A high-ranking law enforcement official told CBS News that the suspect apparently used a syringe to inject a chemical into the powder, which was located near his groin. It is a technique and it's possible that this incident was a test of whether the materials could pass screening and how effective they might be at causing damage, the source said.

According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, PETN is a highly explosive, colorless organic compound, and is related to nitroglycerin. Introduced as an explosive after World War I, PETN is "valued for its shattering force and efficiency ... and is the least stable of the common military explosives but retains its properties in storage for longer periods than nitroglycerin or cellulose nitrate (nitrocellulose) does."

Abdulmutallab claims to have hid the bomb-making materials - a small packet of the PETN in a plastic-like pouch, possibly a condom, and at least one syringe - in his groin area. He claims to have had 80 grams of PETN - a significant amount - but officials have not corroborated that claim. Forensic experts are still trying to assess the composition, potency and viability of the device.

FBI agents recovered what appeared to be the remnants of a liquid-filled syringe, believed to have been part of the explosive device, from the vicinity of Abdulmutallab's seat.

Manuals aimed at Mujahideens who might embark on terrorist operations and obtained by CBS News offer suggestions on how to smuggle explosives and detonators past airport security onto aircrafts. One manual explains how to use a camera's flash electric circuit as a detonator, and suggests an idea for smuggling secondary explosives, used in detonators, in medication pills.

The manuals also offer advice, such as to avoid airports with advanced explosives detection equipment and to avoid past mistakes: "Blow yourself inside the aircraft's toilets and don't make the same mistakes made by other Mujahideen such the shoe bomber."
Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar and ABC News consultant, told ABC that al Qaeda has identified vulnerabilities in U.S. airport security.

"They know that this is a weakness and an Achilles' heel in our airport security system and this is the second time they've tried it," he said.

Clarke said current scanning devices need to be replaced with more modern technology, and that full body scans are needed. However, the full body scan is expensive and intrusive, he said.

Attorney General Eric Holder made clear that the United States will look beyond Abdulmutallab. He vowed to "use all measures available to our government to ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is brought to justice."

President Barack Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, was briefed about developments in the attack. National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough was holed up in a secure hotel room in Hawaii to receive briefings, and other traveling presidential aides were kept shut away to monitor new information.

Several members of Congress called for congressional investigations.

The White House said it believed it was an attempted act of terrorism and on airline travel. Dutch anti-terrorism authorities said the U.S. has asked all airlines to take extra precautions on flights worldwide that are bound for the United States.

The incident was reminiscent of Richard Reid, who tried to destroy a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoes, but was subdued by other passengers.

One law enforcement official said the man claimed to have been instructed by al Qaeda to detonate the plane over U.S. soil and Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., chairman of a House Homeland Security subcommittee, said there were "strong suggestions of a Yemen-al Qaida connection and an intent to blow up the plane over U.S. airspace."

But other law enforcement officials cautioned that such claims could not be verified immediately, and said the man may have been acting independently - inspired but not specifically trained or ordered by terror groups.

"This does not strike us as having the earmarks of any kind of well-planned or well-orchestrated attack," a senior security official told CBS News justice correspondent Bob Orr.

The FBI continues talking with Abdulmutallab He claims connections to an Imam in Yemen and an al Qaeda linked bomb maker, but U.S. officials have not verified those claims.

As of now, he appears to be a lone actor with no conspirators. "We're not aware of anybody else," one official told Orr. No further arrests are imminent.

A Virginia-based group that monitors militant messages called attention Saturday to a Dec. 21 video recording from an al Qaeda operative in Yemen who warned of a looming bombing in the U.S.

IntelCenter said the al Qaeda member levied that threat last week during a funeral for militants killed during an airstrike in Yemen two days earlier.

Some airline passengers traveling Saturday felt the consequences of the frightening Christmas Day attack. They were told that new U.S. regulations prevented them from leaving their seats beginning an hour before landing.

Reports from Nigeria indicate that Abdulmutallab is the son of a prominent Nigerian banker who warned authorities about his son's extremist religious views six months ago.

Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, the former chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria, said Saturday he is meeting with security officials in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, because he fears his son may have been the man taken into custody after the failed terrorist attack.

Mutallab said his son, Abdulmutallab, was a student in London. He said his son left London to travel, though he did not know where to.

"I believe he might have been to Yemen, but we are investigating to determine that," the father said.

The Nigerian newspaper This Day, citing family members, reports that Mutallab took his concerns about his son to the U.S. embassy and local authorities six months ago. A source close to him said he is surprised his son was allowed to travel to the U.S. after his warnings, according to the report

U.S. authorities told The Associated Press that in November, his father went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss his concerns about his son's religious beliefs.

One government official said the father did not have any specific information that would put his son on the "no-fly list" or on the list for additional security checks at the airport.

Nor was the information sufficient to revoke his visa to visit the United States. His visa had been granted June 2008 and was valid through June 2010. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to speak to the media.
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