Nigerian charged for trying to blow up U.S. airliner

Sat Dec 26, 2009 10:36pm GMT

By Kevin Krolicki and Jeremy Pelofsky

DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Nigerian man with possible links to al Qaeda militants was charged on Saturday for trying to blow up a U.S. passenger plane with an explosive device on approach into Detroit, U.S. officials said.

The suspect, who was being treated for extensive burns at a Michigan hospital, was overpowered by passengers and crew on the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam. The passengers, two of whom suffered minor injuries, disembarked safely from the Delta Air Lines plane.

"We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism," a White House official told Reuters.

The Justice Department said in a statement that the man, whom it identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, from Nigeria, had been charged with attempting to blow up the plane by setting alight the explosive device that was attached to his body.

He was due to make a court appearance later on Saturday, it said.

A preliminary FBI analysis found that the device contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol. That was one of the explosives carried by Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" who was convicted of trying to blow up a plane headed to the United States months after the 2001 attacks.

"This alleged attack on a U.S. airplane on Christmas Day shows that we must remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism at all times," Attorney General Eric Holder said in the statement.

"We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously, and we will use all measures available to our government to ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is brought to justice."   Continued...

<p>Police watch as a locksmith packs away his tools after helping them at a property during an investigation in a mansion block in London December 26, 2009, in connection with a failed attack on a U.S. airplane. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.