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Global airport security increased after failed Christmas Day terror plot

29-Dec-2009 9:30 AM

Airport security arrangements around the world for flights destined for the US have been upgraded following the incident onboard a Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day. A Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (23), was charged with attempting to destroy the A330-300 aircraft on its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and with placing a destructive device on the aircraft. As the flight was approaching Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Abdulmutallab set off the device, which resulted in a fire and what appears to have been an explosion. Abdulmutallab was then subdued and restrained by passengers and flight crew. The aircraft, with 278 passengers onboard, landed safely. A preliminary FBI analysis found that the device contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, a high explosive. Further analysis is ongoing. [more - US Government] [more - Delta Air Lines] [more - Perspective]

Another Northwest Airlines Flight 253 destined for Detroit on 27-Dec-2009, experienced a suspicious incident shortly before reaching Detroit. The Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) investigated and determined this incident to be non-serious and normal airport operations were not impacted by this incident. [more - JTTF]

US President Obama ordered (28-Dec-2009) reviews of the US watch list system and current screening policies, technologies and procedures related to air travel. [more - Obama speech]

Schiphol Group, operator of Amsterdam Airport, is investigating the incident and is reportedly planning to make new microwave detection technology mandatory, pending EU approval (Reuters, 28-Dec-2009).

Other agencies and organisations have responded:

US Government: "A full investigation has been launched into this attempted act of terrorism, and we will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable. Now, this was a serious reminder of the dangers that we face and the nature of those who threaten our homeland. Had the suspect succeeded in bringing down that plane, it could have killed nearly 300 passengers and crew, innocent civilians preparing to celebrate the holidays with their families and friends. The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season", President Obama, 28-Dec-2009