And this man was an engineering student? Education means nothing when your brain is completely twisted.
A passenger on a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight tried to detonate an explosive device that was strapped to his leg and later told investigators that he was trying to blow up the plane and had affiliations with al Qaeda, according to a senior U.S. official.
The passenger was identified by authorities as Abdul Mudallad, a 23-year-old Nigerian national, according to Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who is the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The device was technologically advanced and potentially devastating, Mr. King said. "This was not a firecracker," he said.
Stephanie van Herk, a passenger from the Netherlands who was in seat 18B, said the Northwest plane had lowered its landing gear when she heard a loud bang. At first she thought the plane might have gotten a flat tire, but then she said saw a flame leap from the lap of a man sitting in the row behind her in the window seat, 19A.
"It was higher than the seat," said Ms. van Herk, who was traveling to Detroit on route to a vacation in New York.
"Then everyone started screaming. It was panic," Ms. van Herk, 22 years old, said. She said the flight attendants shouted, "What are you doing? What are you doing?"
Mr. King said the suspect's name did not appear on any of the terrorist watch lists maintained by U.S. authorities, but that the Nigerian national did turn up "hot" in other terrorism-related databases maintained by intelligence officials.