When a terrorist attempted to blow up yesterday’s Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, one of the Dutch passengers jumped the perpetrator and held him down until the plane landed and the authorities arrived. Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated an article from Elsevier about the Dutch hero:
Dutchman overpowers terrorist on A’dam-Detroit flight
The 32-year-old Jasper Schuringa overpowered the Nigerian terrorist Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab (23) on board the plane from Amsterdam to Detroit and prevented a terrorist attack.
Schuringa, an entrepreneur from Amsterdam, saw Abdulmutallab rise from his seat and light something. He dived right on top of the terrorist and knew he had to overpower him, he told CNN. Schuringa kept Abdulmutallab in a headlock until after landing.
[De Telegraaf adds: “He climbed over other, frightened passengers to storm the terrorist […] when he saw what the guy was doing. When he had beaten the man down, he dragged him to the front of cabin and then extinguished the flames. […] The terrorist had heavy burn wounds on his legs.”]
After the landing he was treated like a hero, says Lydia Faber, a partner in media company owned by the Amsterdam citizen.
Schuringa’s parents indicated they are “very proud” of him. A friend of Schuringa’s, Kasem Challiou, says that the terrorist was packed with explosives. “It definitely was not fireworks, but very serious,” says Schuringa’s friend, who spoke to him after the failed attack. PVV-leader Geert Wilders wants Schuringa to be given an award.
Initially Delta Airlines reported that the man had lit fireworks in the aircraft. Later, U.S. authorities announced that it was a serious attack.
The big question is how the 23-year-old terrorist managed to get explosives on board the aircraft. Staff from the Royal Military Police and the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism (NCTb) are investigating how this could happen. The FBI is also at Schiphol to investigate how the man was able to walk around the airport for three hours with explosives in his bag.
Twenty minutes before landing in Detroit the Nigerian Abdulmutallab took a powdery substance, mixed it with a liquid and brought it to ignition. This triggered a short series of explosions and caused the smell of burning.
The offender told the authorities that he had taped the explosive powder to his leg. He also said he used a syringe filled with chemicals. By mixing the two with each other the thing should have exploded. He says he acted on behalf of the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
UK: Met Police Search London Flat in US Plane Attack Probe
Police are conducting searches at a mansion block in London in connection with the inquiry into an attempted act of terrorism on a US passenger plane.
Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a Nigerian being held after the flight to Detroit, is thought to have been a student at University College London.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the UK would take “whatever action was necessary” to protect passengers.
UK airport operator BAA said searches on flights to the US would increase.
Meanwhile, a statement on British Airway’s website said Washington has revised its security arrangements for all travellers to the US and they would only be allowed one piece of hand luggage.
A BA spokesman said the directive meant US-bound passengers on all airlines would be subjected to additional screening.
“We apologise to passengers for any delays to their journeys. Safety and security are our top priorities and will not be compromised.”
Passengers on the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 operated by Delta say a man was overpowered on Christmas Day after trying to ignite an explosive device as the Airbus 330 approached Detroit from Amsterdam.
According to reports in the US, Mr Abdulmutallab has links to al-Qaeda.
UCL said it had a record of a student with a name similar to the man being questioned in the US.
The case highlights the perennial problem of variant spellings of Arabic names:
A spokesperson said that while the name Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab did not appear in its records, a student called Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was enrolled on a mechanical engineering course between September 2005 and June 2008.
It added: “It must be stressed that the university has no evidence that this is the same person currently being referred to in the media.”
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said the British authorities were informed of a possible connection to the UK on Thursday evening.
The MI5 and police teams assigned to the case are trying ascertain whether Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is the same person, our correspondent said.
It is understood one of their key priorities will also be to check whether the arrested man has cropped up in the course of any other investigations.
BBC News correspondent Richard Slee said there was fairly low-key police activity at the last known address of Mr Abdulmutallab, a basement flat in a smart mansion block near Harley Street in central London.
Reporting from the scene, he said police forensic officers have been seen going into the building on Mansfield Street.
A UK Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “In response to events in Detroit the US authorities have requested additional measures for US-bound flights.
“We are monitoring the situation and will make any assessments as necessary as this develops.”
According to the Dutch airport authorities, Mr. Abdulmutallab was subjected to the standard security screening at Schiphol, and airport personnel employed the correct procedures, following all regulations. VH has translated another article from the Dutch, this one in De Telegraaf:
Nigerian underwent control
Schiphol — At Schiphol during his transfer to his flight to Detroit, the 23-year old Nigerian terror suspect Farouk Abdulmutallab underwent a security check. This was conducted according to the rules, reported the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism (NCTb) Saturday after a preliminary investigation.
Yet the man probably managed to pass through the security at the airport with the explosives. “At the security check, no irregularities were determined”, the NCTb says. “Despite an audit performed in accordance with the rules, it can not be excluded that potentially dangerous items are being brought on board, especially objects that are difficult to detect with current security technology such as metal detectors.”
The first investigation shows that before the flight departed for the U.S., Northwest Airlines had passed the passenger list data, including that of the accused, to U.S. authorities according to the standards. The Americans subsequently gave a green light for the people that were listed on the passenger list.
According to the NCTb, the Nigerian who tried to blow up the aircraft just before landing in Detroit also had a valid U.S. visa. It is therefore likely that Abdulmutallab was not registered in the United States as a potential terrorist.
Following the incident aboard the Northwest Airlines flight, the U.S. authorities have asked airlines worldwide to take additional measures for flights to the United States. From now on they are to be installed for all flights to the U.S. for an indeterminate period.
In other words: the airport security procedures we all know and love are useless. Taking off our shoes and our belts, stripping down to our skivvies, emptying our pockets of all metal objects, putting our toothpaste into little clear plastic bags — all this is to no avail. The mujahideen are quite familiar with these obstacles, and design their attacks to overcome them.
I predict that we’ll eventually have to strip to the buff and have lights shined up our nether apertures every time we want to take a plane. But even that won’t be good enough; the Muslim terrorists will simply employ the skills of some of the thousands of immigrant surgeons in the EU, and have the necessary materials sewn into their chest cavities or crania.
No amount of screening will make us safe. Any security procedures we devise can always be circumvented by ruthless and dedicated Muslim zealots.
The only way we will ever be safe to tackle the deadly ideology head on, wiping it out root and branch.