Attempted airplane bomber might have acted alone: FBI

10:00, December 27, 2009      

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A Nigerian who attempted to set off an explosion device on a Delta international flight might have acted alone, said a Federal Bureau of Investigation official on Saturday.

The official, who spoke on anonymity, told CNN that the suspect, who was identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, has been "talking a lot" to FBI investigators.

He claimed that he has ties with al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that took responsibilities with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and obtained the explosive device and instruction from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

However, the initial impression on FBI investigators was that the suspect was acting alone and did not have any formal connections to any terrorist groups, said the official.

According to the source, Abdulmutallab departed from Lagos, Nigeria, aboard a KLM flight and took the Delta/Northwest Flight 253, with 278 passengers and 11 crew members on board, at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he did not go through the secondary screening check.

With about 20 minutes before the flight landed on the Detroit Metro Airport in Michigan around noon on Friday, Abdulmutallab ignited the small explosive device tied to his leg, but caused nothing but some smoke and fire on his own lap.

The suspect was currently in custody and treated for the second and third-degree burns. Another two passengers also suffered some minor injuries.

In response to the incident, the White House has ordered to step up the security checks on the domestic and international flights and the Department of Homeland Security also posted a notice on its website, saying there would be "additional screening measures put into places to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights."

Seen from footages on local TV new channels, the Dulles International Airport in suburb Washington, D.C. has adopted additional passport checking procedure and stricter screening on carry-on liquid items.

Passengers have been supportive to the measure, citing the need for secured flights, though they had to spend more time in waiting lines.

U.S. authorities confirmed that Abdulmutallab's name was not on the "no-fly" list but showed up in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment that includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization.

The incident has not only tightened nerves of Americans who are in their Christmas holiday, but also triggered a new round of investigations in terrorism acts and strengthened flight security worldwide.

Britain security and intelligence authorities have joined in the investigation since Abdulmutallab was confirmed a former student in the University College of London's mechanical engineering department.

In a separate report, a Nigerian banker in Lagos told media that his son might be the suspect who attempted to bomb the Delta/Northwest flight and he would cooperate with Nigerian security officials in the investigation.

Source: Xinhua
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