Two Injured in Northwest Airlines Flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Dec. 25, 2009 / ABC News
The man said he was directed by al Qaeda to explode a small device in flight, over U.S. soil, ABC News has learned. Authorities have no corroboration of that information and the credibility of the suspect's statements are being questioned, officials said.
"The subject is claiming to have extremist affiliation and that the device was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used," a federal situational awareness bulletin added.
Northwest Airlines flight 253 landed safely in Detroit at 11:53 a.m. The man, whose flight started in Nigeria before stopping in Amsterdam, was taken into custody at the Detroit airport and was interviewed by authorities there. He was then taken to an area hospital to be treated for burns.
Delta spokeswoman Susan Chana Elliott said that "as the plane was getting ready to land" in Detroit "a passenger caused a disturbance" by trying to ignite what was reported to be firecrackers. The man was "subdued immediately," Elliott said. Northwest is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta.
An in-flight emergency was declared when a fire indicator light came on in the cockpit, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The pilot asked for airport rescue and firefighting services and for law enforcement to meet the flight at gate, the TSA said.
It is unclear how powerful the explosive could have been and what the man's intentions were. Initial reports were that fireworks or firecrackers had gone off on the plane. The man suffered second-degree burns, which is consistent with a small fireworks device, police sources said.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Sandra R. Berchtold from the Detroit office confirmed that the FBI was at the airport but would not comment further.
"All passengers have deplaned and out of an abundance of caution, the plane was moved to a remote area where the plane and all baggage are currently being rescreened," the Transportation Security Administration, which handles aircraft and airplane safety, said in a statement. "A passenger is in custody and passengers are being interviewed." The aircraft was an Airbus A330-200, twin-engine jet carrying 278 passengers.