Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Detroit Terror Plot - Day 2
Disaster averted in Detroit...
It's been a whole day since 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national bragging of ties with al Qaeda, attempted to bring down a Delta/Northwest Airlines flight landing in Detroit.
Thanks to the clear-headed, quick thinking of Jasper Schuringa, a filmmaker from Amsterdam who subdued the alleged terrorist, the explosives Abdulmutallab tried to detonate on board Northwest Airlines flight 253 failed to properly detonate.
The would-be terrorist was held by passengers and crew and held until he could be taken into custody (photo/report below). Today, a federal judge told Abdulmutallabtold he was charged with trying to blow up the Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman read the charges in a conference room on Saturday at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, where Abdulmutallab is being treated for burns.
Byron York at The Washington Examiner writes, "The Obama White House has been aggressive in its press outreach regarding the Northwest Airlines terrorist incident. Some of the earliest stories on accused terrorist Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to set off an explosive device on board Northwest Flight 253 were sourced to the White House, and White House officials were quick to label the incident an 'attempted act of terrorism.' The White House wants the public to know that President Obama, on vacation at a luxurious oceanfront home in Hawaii, has received conference call updates and is keeping close tabs on the situation."
According to the Los Angeles Times, "Federal authorities have called on airlines and airports around the world to tighten security measures, including frisking all passengers headed to the U.S., performing additional searches and limiting passenger movements during the latter part of a flight."
A report at Politico.com sites "Growing evidence that the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a commercial airliner as it landed in Detroit Friday spent time in Yemen and may have been fitted with customized, explosive-laden clothing there." Politico.com also notes that the attempt "could complicate the U.S. government’s efforts to send home more than 80 Yemeni prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay."
Add Yemen: Howard Altman over at The Daily Beast writes that “An al-Qaeda magazine published a how-to article in Yemen outlining the same terror techniques that marked the attempted Christmas Day bombing."
Since the flubbed bombing, little has changed at most U.S. airports but security measures have greatly increased at foreign airports with flights inbound to American locations. "Travelers taking international flights to the United States on Saturday faced pat-down searches, new limits on carry-on luggage and more thorough screening at airport checkpoints.Federal authorities have called on airlines and airports around the world to tighten security measures, including frisking all passengers headed to the U.S., performing additional searches and limiting passenger movements during the latter part of a flight." (h/t: Los Angeles Times)
On John Batchelor's nightly broadcast tonight, "Douglas Laird, retired Northwest Airlines security director, and Larry Johnson of No Quarter, explained that no airport security extant is correct to apprehend what is presumed to be the mode used by the suspect at Amsterdam's airport, where the suspect passed through three first-rate screenings. What would defeat the mode is a body scan machine, which are not in use. Possibly a full body pat down, but not necessarily. The body scan is not practical because of cost per machine (more than $250k each); and the full pat down is not practical because of time, unless you also permit profiling. In sum, the suspect defeated all the screens between Lagos, Nigeria and wheels down at Detroit airport."
While U.S. airports have yet to make significant, "visible" changes, some immediate differences may soon be in effect on flights. According to the New York Times, "Federal officials on Saturday imposed new restrictions on travelers that could...limit the ability of international passengers to move about an airplane."
What's next? "The Obama team [is] now faced with walking backward the man's route...what airports and when, who passed him through, how he was connected to an inbound USA flight?"
These questions and more - along with their answers - are sure to come in the days, weeks and months ahead.