December 30, 2009

Flight 253 hero recounts thwarting Christmas bombing attempt

Posted: 03:44 PM ET

(CNN) - The seven-hour flight from the Netherlands to Michigan had been uneventful. Passengers bided time watching movies or trying to catch shut eye.

But as Northwest Flight 253 made its final approach to Detroit on Christmas, the actions of one man put at risk the lives of nearly 300 passengers on the jetliner - and the quick thinking of another helped prevent disaster.

Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch filmmaker, appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" for a second time Tuesday night, recounting how he and others subdued an al Qaeda-linked suspect from detonating explosives that the man had attached to his underwear.

That suspect, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, is now charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft in a plot that the militant group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has claimed responsibility for. A senior administration official said late Tuesday that new information suggests the 23-year-old Nigerian man's plot may indeed have had ties to the group.

"First, I thought it just might be a crazy guy to actually carry a firecracker onto the airplane," Schuringa said Tuesday night. "It came as quite a shock when I heard he had ties to al Qaeda."

From Detroit, Schuringa had a connecting flight before his final destination: a vacation with friends in Miami, Florida.

As the plane neared Detroit, Schuringa said, he heard what sounded like a firecracker going off.

"First, it was just 'bang,'" he said. "And you're trying to look around, like where's this bang coming from."

Immediately afterward, someone screamed "Fire!"

Schuringa said he noticed a man on the left side of the aisle, sitting still while on fire.

"A normal person would stand up, and he wasn't standing up," he said. "So then I knew, this guy is trying to do something."


Filed under: Larry King Live • Terrorism

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dak   December 30th, 2009 5:02 pm ET

these passengers on the plan that jumped in are what saved alot of people from losing their lives. Their actions not the CIA – FBI – TSA. Air travel is bad enough and looks like only going to get worse because in stead of profiling everyone must strip.

God Bless the USA

A. Smith, Oregon   December 30th, 2009 6:05 pm ET

The State Dept. reward for this brave Dutch man was for the Dept. of Homeland Security to publish this mans full name and home address which would allow the violent Dutch Muslim organizations to someday hunt this hero down and possibly murder him.

Citizens that stand up against Muslims trying to commit violent acts upon Americans must have the US Govt. stand up for them and protect their right to privacy, not turn their back on them if Muslim organizations sue that man/woman, nor publish their full name and home address so that those same Muslims can attempt to exact revenge upon them.

Deborah Cunningham   December 30th, 2009 6:32 pm ET

GREAT JOB by Candy Crowley pinch-hitting for Larry!
I a.lways stop and listen when I can to Candy's reporting-I love the way her reports are brief but thorough narratives on some event or person. Great speaking voice and inflection.
Now don't let the 'glam' stuff interfere with what she does best, reporting, but more Candy would be a plus.

Evelyn Furness   December 30th, 2009 8:10 pm ET

I was watching Larry King last night and several times it was stated that the bombing attempt took place over Detroit. Yes the plane was on route to Detroit and it was in the process of landing there, but the attempt didn't happen over Detroit airspace. It happened over Southwestern Ontario Canada and if the attempt had been successful, the plane would have crashed in Southwestern Ontario Canada. The last time I checked, I didn't live in or near Detroit. The reason I know this is because I live in Southwestern Ontario Canada and the flight path of that plane was reported in the Toronto Sun newspaper. Planes heading to the US fly over this area on a daily and regular basis. Please try to get your facts straight.

Ashley   December 30th, 2009 10:20 pm ET

Hello larry,

i am responding to your latest blog question about security since 9/11. i think the security has gotten better a little and has improved quite a bit. my only thing is that if the security was at its best, we would not of had another terriost attemp in action. thanks larry.

Mickey Baird   December 30th, 2009 10:30 pm ET

If they, the terrorists can't blow-up a plane coming from outside the U.S. I would be watching for a non-stop to or from points like Fla or LA to NY or vice versa..Couldn't they put small cameras in planes to see what passengers are doing (ie) completing their bomb under a blanket!!!

nancy benjamin   December 30th, 2009 10:42 pm ET

The problem with government is it's response is reactive never proactive. In regards to the recent, thank God, failed airline bombing, please don't focus on what can be done to detect plastic explosives in underwear. I fear what we will be required to do, or be subject to, in order to fly! What do we know? The terrorist is willing to die for their cause. Next attempt may be the terrorist who boards a plane after consuming some explosive. Where there's a will there's a way.

Mary Ann Elieff   December 30th, 2009 10:46 pm ET

Granted there needs to be improved inter-governmental communication about these REAL threats. What happened to the very first idea implemented after 9/11 ???? When paying cash, no luggage, one way ticket..... ding, ding, ding ALERT. If the airline ticket counter personnel had been doing their job ,he would not even have gotten on the plane and without a passport??? Really this is a very basic point of failure.

Carroll   December 30th, 2009 11:01 pm ET

Larry who that woman think she is to call the young man UGLY? The reason why muslims want to kill americans is because americans started this war and it will not end

Dr. Allean Varnado Lang   December 30th, 2009 11:11 pm ET

Hello Larry, I fly International all the time, but I am slacking off flying, because, I feel they need to check all people that comes into the airport that are not checking in to fly and check also the one who is flying. They can just walk in the airport and do something stupid. We don't know what they have on them .. Non passengers should be scan at the door also. We have not been checking them.. It is too dangerous to trust anyone. Our lives are very important. Please check into this. Don't wait until they go to their gate to be checked, but check them when they come through the main entrance door. We have a right to live. God Bless,

Julius Warthen   December 30th, 2009 11:11 pm ET

Larry America need help.

A. Smith, Oregon   December 31st, 2009 1:01 am ET

The FBI Director should immediately go before the American people and explain why the man that was seen by closed circuit security cameras at Amsterdam's International Gate and by two creditable witness's, one who is a US Attorney as sneaking the Nigerian Muslim butt-bomber past Amsterdam's security checks and onto a International Flight to America without a passport, Is NOT on the FBI MOST WANTED FUGITIVES LIST.

w galer   December 31st, 2009 11:07 am ET

Was surprised to see Larry visibly wince every time the Administration was criticisized. And, why all the comparisons to Bush? We need impartiality and a focus on today. The situation is too serious for anything else.

Alexander   January 1st, 2010 9:32 am ET

I think all of this will keep happening because we are looking at the wrong place, we are spending millions on this systems etc, but thats not the answer the truth is that anybody can bypass any airport security of any technology as long as you know how the system works it will only take you a week in a simple job in one airport to know what pretty much anybody that works there knows, and that means every airport has its glitches that one working there knows and learns. I had many friends work there as I my self had once work there for a summer as an international security and let me tell you even people working piking the track up know how to pass any metal without making the metal detector make a sound what does that tell you about what is going on now. We have to be smarter on the levels of knowing what are the possibilities of attack and than creating plans to work around that.

BONNIE COEDY   January 1st, 2010 2:38 pm ET

Evelyn, Thank you for your response that this plane was over Canadian Air Space when this incident took place. I said the same thing in this blog earlier. I just wonder why some people have a problem with Geography. Come on people...tell the truth..the plane was over was a criminal act taking place in Canadian Air Space. I wonder what you Americans would think if it blew up and crashed in Southern Ontario, would it make the news in your counrty?

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