December 30, 2009
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."
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