A Northwest Airlines passenger landing in Detroit on Friday tried to blow up the flight but the explosive device failed, two U.S. national security officials said.
The passenger, who was traveling on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam, was not identified. He was being questioned Friday evening, according to one of the officials, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.
The Delta/Northwest confusion stems from an ongoing consolidation following the merger of the two companies in 2008.
The motive of the Christmas Day attack was not immediately clear.
“He appears to have had some kind of incendiary device he tried to ignite,” said one of the U.S. officials.
A senior law enforcement source speaking to CBS News has identified the suspect as Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23.
After the plane landed at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the suspect lit and set off what were at first described as fireworks or firecrackers but may have been another type of explosive. The explosive apparently lit the lower part of the suspect’s body. He was immediately subdued and restrained and was later transported to a hospital burn unit.
Two other people suffered minor injuries.
The suspect has told federal investigators that he was sent by al Qaeda. He claims he picked up the explosive material in Yemen and was instructed to set it off on board an airplane. Those claims could not immediately be verified.
The suspect was on a U.S. government watch list of people with suspected terrorist ties. He is still being questioned.
“This does not strike us as having the earmarks of any kind of well-planned or well-orchestrated attack,” a senior security official told CBS News.
That all remains to be seen. But a case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome certainly isn’t reassuring.