News

Nigerian Charged with Trying to Blow Up Airliner

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab read charges in a hospital where he is being treated for burns

Nico Colombant

U.S. authorities have charged a Nigerian man with trying to blow up a plane on its descent into the city of Detroit on Friday.  The man, who comes from a prominent Nigerian family, was read the charges in a hospital Saturday, where he is being treated for burns. 

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman read the 23-year-old his charges in a room at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was asked if he understood the charges against him, and he answered in English that he did.

Witnesses reported he was in a wheelchair with a blanket over his lap. 

The U.S. government accuses the Nigerian national of bringing an explosive device onto Friday's Northwest Airlines Flight 253 plane from Amsterdam.  A preliminary analysis by federal authorities indicates he used a syringe to detonate a highly explosive substance, identified as PETN.

Passengers have told investigators the man went into the bathroom for 20 minutes before landing, and then when he went to sit down, said he had stomach problems, and pulled a blanket on himself.

Just as the plane was getting ready to land, they heard a pop, smelled smoke and then saw the man on fire.

A Dutch passenger jumped on the Nigerian to subdue him, and blankets were used to put out the fire. 

The House Committee on Homeland Security chairman, Bennie Thompson, said it was a very close call. "We're just fortunate nothing happened. This was a serious situation," he said. Thompson said Congress will look into the matter as soon as possible. "As soon as we reconvene from the holiday recess, we will start looking into the circumstances around the Northwest flight incident."

Nigeria's acting ambassador to the United States, Babagana Wakil, immediately issued a statement, which he read to VOA over the phone. "Expectedly, the embassy is already in contact with relevant U.S. authorities over the incident to facilitate any preliminary investigations to get to the bottom of this unfortunate development. Officers from the embassy have already flown to Michigan to gain consular access to the individual under investigation, and to offer the mission's cooperation to federal and local authorities," he said.

The suspect's family members in Nigeria said they were shocked.  The suspect's father, an accountant and businessman,  was previously a very well known banker in Africa's most populous nation.  Friends and family said Adbulmutallab had studied in Togo and London, and that he had recently made several trips to Yemen. 

Friday, the White House said it believed it was an attempted act of terrorism. U.S. media reports say the suspect told interrogators he had affiliations with al-Qaida.

The charges that were read against him Saturday carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs