Washington, Dec. 26 (ANI): A failed attempt by a London student to bomb a Detroit-bound trans-Atlantic flight with a mixture of powder and liquid is being seen by the United States as "an attempted act of terrorism."
Nigerian-origin Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, an engineering student at University College of London, tried to ignite an explosive device aboard a trans-Atlantic Northwest Airlines flight as the plane prepared to land in Detroit on Friday.
Passengers aboard the Airbus A330 described a series of pops that sounded like firecrackers.
It was unclear how the man, calling himself an al Qaeda operative, managed to get the explosive on the plane, an Airbus A330 wide-body jet carrying 278 passengers that departed from Amsterdam with passengers who had originated in Nigeria.
A senior administration official said that the government did not yet know whether the man had had the capacity to take down the plane.
"We're trying to ascertain exactly what he had and what he thought he was doing, but our sense is he wanted to wreak some havoc here and was attempting to do just that. Whether at the end of the day he had the ability to do that is what I think we'll be able to pull together over the next several days as we investigate this," the New York Times quoted him, as saying.
Obama, who was spending the Christmas holiday with his family and friends at a secluded Hawaiian beach house, immediately ordered security tightened at airports across the nation, raising travellers' fears on one of the busiest days of the year.
Abdulmutallab, who suffered third-degree burns, told authorities he got the explosives in Yemen and received orders from Al Qaeda operatives to detonate the device aboard a plane over U.S. soil, officials said.
"It's too early to say what his association is. At this point, it seems like he was acting alone, but we don't know for sure," a counterterrorism official said.
Although Abdulmutallab is said to have told officials that he was directed by Al Qaeda, the counterterrorism official expressed caution about that claim, saying "it may have been aspirational." (ANI)