Attempted Terrorist Bombing of Detroit-Bound Airliner Fails

Northwest Airlines Flight 253

As Northwest Airlines Flight 253 approached Detroit on December 25, 2009, a 23-year-old Nigerian man attempted to set off an incendiary device aboard the airplane. Identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man apparently tried to detonate the explosive but succeeded only in starting a small fire. Passengers who heard sounds like firecrackers reacted and wrestled him to the floor. The jet arriving from Amsterdam was carrying 11 crewmembers and 279 passengers, most of whom had originated in Nigeria. It landed safely and was quickly surrounded by police and emergency vehicles.

No one was injured other than the suspect himself, who suffered serious burns. It is nonetheless being viewed as an act of terrorism. Although authorities say Abdulmutallab appeared to have acted alone, he reportedly claimed at first to have connections to the al Qaeda terrorist network. Abdulmutallab has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder, and willful attempt to destroy and wreck an aircraft.

Federal officials previously tracked Abdulmutallab, an engineering student at a London university, in a law enforcement–intelligence database, yet had not put his name on a “no-fly” list. President Obama was critical of the security lapses that failed to stop the alleged bomber from ever boarding the plane, given the information that was available about him. However, he said that the near-disaster was not a particular individual’s or agency’s fault, and he called on intelligence officials to do their jobs better, and faster.

Image © Associated Press

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Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Summarize What happened aboard the Amsterdam–Detroit Flight 253 on Christmas Day, 2009?
  2. Make Inferences Why is the bombing that was foiled being viewed as a security failure?
  3. Form and Support Opinions What measures might be reasonably taken by free societies to protect the security of airline passengers from terrorists?


  1. You my buddy are a genius

    • n/c says:

      not gonna disagree on that one!!! lol…. how stupid can someone be??? ( the bomber person guy )

  2. john says:

    epic fail

  3. nina says:

    seriously he should have been a lot quiter. you dont make noise when your trying to bomb somehing. thats the BIGGEST fail i think ive ever seen……..

  4. nina says:

    but dont get me wrong i wasnt for the guy…. just saying.

  5. 76l says:

    wats rong with these people?><

  6. Aw says: