Charges Filed in Detroit in Attempted Plane Bombing; Authorities Say Device Contained Highly Explosive Chemical PETN
By Allan Lengel ticklethewire.com
A federal criminal complaint charging the Nigerian National with trying to blow up the Christmas day plane from Amsterdam to Detroit, said the explosive device contained PETN or pentaerythritol, a highly explosive material.
The charging document filed in federal court in Detroit Saturday, charged Umar Farkouk Abdulmutallab with willful attempt to destroy an aircraft and willfully placing and causing to be placed a destructive device on the aircraft that was carrying 279 passengers and 11 crew members.
Abdulmutallab made his initial appearance on the charges at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor where he was being treated at the burn center after the explosion, according to Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit. He was being detained and the next hearing date is scheduled for Jan. 8.
A pool report said he was wearing a green hospital gown at his court appearance and was wheeled into a first floor conference room in a wheel chair. He was handcuffed to the chair. (To read more on the pool report click here to the Detroit Free Press.)
An affidavit by FBI agent Theodore James Peissig on the plane incident stated that Abdulmutallab had returned to his seat after going to the bathroom for 20 minutes and said he had an upset stomach. The plane was on its final approach to Detroit.
He then “pulled a blanket over himself. Passengers then heard popping noises similar to firecrackers, smelled an odor , and some observed Abdulmutallab’s pant leg and the wall of the airplane on fire,” the affidavit said.
“Passengers and crew then subdued Abdulmutallab and used blankets and fire extinguishers to put out the flames,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit went on to say that a flight attendant had asked Abdulmutallah what was in his pocket and he replied “explosive device.”
“A passenger stated that he observed Abdulmutallab holding what appeared to be a partially melted syringe, which was smoking,” the affidavit said. The passenger took the syringe from the suspect and “shook it to stop it from smoking, and threw it to the floor of the aircraft.”
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. issued a statement saying: “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.
“Had this alleged plot to destroy an airplane been successful, scores of innocent people would have been killed or injured. ”