Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Transportation United States News

Man Tries To Use Explosive Device On US Flight 809

reporter writes with news that a Nigerian man allegedly attempted to set off a small explosive device — possibly a firecracker — on a Delta Airbus 330 airliner bound for Detroit yesterday. "There was a pop and then smoke wafted through the cabin. A passenger then climbed over several seats, lunged across the aisle and managed to subdue the suspect, the eyewitnesses said. The Nigerian man was placed in a headlock before being dragged up to the first class cabin. Passenger Zeina Seagal told CNN that after the suspect was collared and parts of his burning pants were removed, flight attendants quickly grabbed fire extinguishers and doused the fire at his seat." The man has claimed links to al-Qaeda, though the investigation hasn't confirmed that yet. (They're not taking anything for granted given that his pants were literally on fire.)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Man Tries To Use Explosive Device On US Flight

Comments Filter:
  • Result (Score:5, Informative)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:39AM (#30555640) Journal

    The new rules are hilarious however:

    - Not allowed to have any items or anything on your lap for the last 1 hour of flight
    - Not allowed to go to toilet during that time either
    - Crew doesn't tell about cities or landmarks so passengers don't know where they are flying (it's so hard to time that on clock)

    What is that going to improve?

    • Re:Result (Score:5, Insightful)

      by areusche ( 1297613 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:41AM (#30555646)
      Just wait when they ban laptops because of explosive batteries! Terrorism on a plane is just pointless for this reason alone. The passengers will fight the fool to his death.
      • Re:Result (Score:5, Interesting)

        by thePsychologist ( 1062886 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:08PM (#30556230) Journal

        But you mention a good point: the suspect was apprehended with the help of a passenger. How about instead of wasting billions of dollars on ridiculous security measures, we pay passengers to take martial arts lessons?

        Or, instead of banning weapons, what about mandating that everyone flying MUST carry a knife with them?

        • Re:Result (Score:5, Insightful)

          by innerweb ( 721995 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:16PM (#30556296)

          Lets go Swiss. Everyone is required to complete military service (4 to 6 years). In which, they get trained on weapons usage, self defense, martial arts, etc. Now, you have a whole plane load of security experts.

          • Re:Result (Score:5, Insightful)

            by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @03:32PM (#30557638) Homepage
            That's a really expensive way to do it - in terms of opportunity cost. Those are years of peoples' lives. They could be doing something else, being productive members of society, living their lives (some of the best years of their life, too). In terms of lost wages alone that service would easily cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars - to say nothing of the price of my liberty.
            • Re:Result (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ( 1195047 ) <philip DOT paradis AT palegray DOT net> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @07:03PM (#30559232) Homepage Journal

              They could be doing something else, being productive members of society, living their lives (some of the best years of their life, too).

              So you're saying members of the military aren't productive members of society and that they gain no life experience from service. Speaking as someone who served in the U.S. Navy as a submariner, I find that position laughable. The value of the life you live shouldn't be based on a few years worth of a salary that you're so certain could have been higher.

              to say nothing of the price of my liberty

              You have your liberty because others are willing to serve. How about getting your head out of your ass?

              • Re:Result (Score:5, Interesting)

                by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @11:31PM (#30560422) Homepage

                Sorry. I should be more clear here. I'm not trying to be anti-military, but at the same tome: no, the military is not a productive part of society. They produce nothing of everyday value, or pretty close to it. Rather, it's a protective part of society. This is important too, but at the end of the day the whole reason for the Army/Navy/whatever is to keep whatever I'm doing (and my neighbors and their neighbors) intact. If all the "bad guys" in the world turned good in a torrent of peace and flowers and sunshine and unicorns heralding the dawn of a new era free from conflict forever, we'd be better off without any troops whatsoever. In the interim, it's good to have them around, but every resource that we devote to the military is diverted from productive activity, and the things people really value in their everyday lives: manufacturing, programming, literature, textiles, art, car-washing, gardening, home improvement, gym memberships, football, education, books on tape, whatever.

                Moreover, I'm much better at programming than soldiering. My time really is better spent outside the army. It's the basic principle of "specialization" which Adam Smith expounded upon in Wealth of Nations tens of decades ago. Sure, some people can benefit from their career in the military life, plenty. Some people can appreciate the military culture. I'm not among them. I would find it oppressive, grating, and obnoxious, and probably feel trapped. I've got an ingrained anti-authoritarian streak a mile wide, which I prefer to avoid activating.

                Finally, if everyone spends some of the formative years of their lives in a very rigid, structured organization like the military, we as a society would trend towards an organizational monoculture in the rest of our business world which would hamper our ability to innovate and create more-efficient business processes, just because everyone has been inculcated the same way.

                Now, my family has plenty of military tradition. I can appreciate the military. My great-grandfather was a hero in the Polish-Bolshevik war. (He got a snazzy estate on the border, and he and his family were set for life, until the Soviets rolled in and shipped everyone off to Siberia). My grandfather on the other side of the family trained to operate a Davy Crockett missile (you know, the "atomic hand grenade"). And now my little brother is thinking of going into the Army. Voluntarily. He'd have a blast, I'm sure. He'd like it. He's a lot better suited for it than I am. The nation will be adequately protected without the government telling me exactly what I'm going to do with 4-6 years of my life.

                And you know, in times of great need, like the big world wars, when we have a draft, sometimes that little infringement is a price that people have to pay, and it's worth it. But now? For the sake of airline security to possibly theoretically maybe help thwart a terrorist attack like the one that was just the other day thwarted without that sort of help? Not worth it. Call me again when there's a real threat to America. Thanks.

          • Re:Result (Score:5, Informative)

            by darthflo ( 1095225 ) * on Saturday December 26, 2009 @03:52PM (#30557794)


            Except females.

            complete military service

            Except those deemed unfit and those who request to perform civilian service. (Starting this year, this way is open to all at 1.5x the duration of uniformed service.)

            (4 to 6 years)

            ...if you're going for Colonel. Enlisted men serve slightly less than a year, NCOs one to one and a half and lieutenants are done in less than two.

            weapons usage

            Lying down and shooting at targets 300 metres away with an assault rifle. Excluding those who perform their uniformed service sans weapons.

            self defense

            The only defense I picked up was how to defend myself against the incompetence of superiors (i.e. selective hearing).

            martial arts


            You may have been looking for Israel or something, but the only thing this hunk of junk produces is a thriving mass of overweight, corrupt and slimy staff officers with no base in reality whatsoever. The training you get is of approximately the same value as watching four Steven Seagal movies end-to-end.

            Full disclosure: Sgt in the Swiss Army, retired in Q3/2009. Tell me about your sources. :)

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              I think you must have missed a couple of turns on the information superhighway... your post is entirely too informative for Slashdot. Are you sure you weren't trying to post somewhere else?
        • Re:Result (Score:5, Funny)

          by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:32PM (#30556390) Homepage

          Exactly. You ban bottled water, and only outlaws will have bottled water. :P

        • Re:Result (Score:5, Funny)

          by grolaw ( 670747 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:40PM (#30556446) Journal

          The easy solution is g-strings, flip-flops, pasties, bath towels for every seat and lots and lots of deodorant spray.

          You show me a naked terrorist on an airliner and I'll show you an unarmed terrorist on an airliner.

      • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:24PM (#30556344)

        The passengers will fight the fool to his death.

        People do strange things under stress. They do not always do the right things.

        The aircraft is most vulnerable to the suicide bomber in take-off and landing. Passengers and crew are belted in.

        The plane can be pitched steeply up. The acceleration is significant.

        The bomber may take the window seat.

        The party of four from the Sun and Shadows Retirement Home may be seated next. Not Bronco Billy Anderson and The Ranger From San Antonio.

        None of this will matter, of course, if the primary explosive device ignites within a heart beat or so.

        I have wondered idly if it would be worth trying to ignite a magnesium laptop case - or whether a potent explosive or incendiary could be impregnated into ordinary clothing.

      • Re:Result (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Snodgrass ( 446409 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:36PM (#30556428) Homepage

        The passengers will fight the fool to his death.

        Exactly! 9/11 will never happen again. Not because of the ridiculous tactics of the TSA, but because the rules changed on that day.

        Used to be that your plane was hijacked, you flew somewhere obscure and waited on the tarmac while a deal was worked out, and then you were free. That's how box cutters were enough of a weapon to take over the flights.

        Now we all know that someone doing trying something like that could very likely end in disaster, so when we passengers see something going down, we put an immediate stop to it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          If 9/11 changed the rules as you say, then why have there been several successful (read: control of the plane was taken) hijackings since then?

          People like to say the rules have changed, but the fact that successful hijackings have occurred since then demonstrates that is just plain wrong.

    • Re:Result (Score:4, Funny)

      by gclef ( 96311 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:42AM (#30555660)

      You missed the most likely new rule:

      - Not allowed to wear pants.

    • Re:Result (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:50AM (#30555716) Homepage

      Do you have a source for that?

      Security is getting so ridiculous that I'm forced to wonder how long it will be until these people decide to ban passengers. No passengers -> no terrorists -> no victims.

      • Re:Result (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:59AM (#30555760) Journal

        I found this [] for Canada, it seems to have the same rules stated too.

        • Re:Result (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @11:07AM (#30555808) Homepage

          Amazing. Given US's kneejerk reactions to these kinds of events, is it at all surprising that more and more people are refusing to visit the United States for anything other than business purposes? These idiots either don't realize or don't care that overreaction does have its price.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by innerweb ( 721995 )

            Get a book called "Family Of Secrets". I have not read it ywt, but I have heard that is helps explain much of the very problem you are talking about over the past 50 years.

          • Re:Result (Score:4, Interesting)

            by ctrl-alt-canc ( 977108 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @01:30PM (#30556782)
            I think that business relations are flying away from US as well. I work in the R&D dept. of a large european company, and since when security rules for entering US have been tightened, I started preferring non-US based contractors and universities as business partners (most of them are now in Canada and EU): I found that I could get the same services offered by US-based companies, but without the inconvenients dictated by TSA rules. Before 9/11 I used to come to US at least 3-4 times a year for business, now I come only once a year, unless I cannot delegate the travel to somebody else. What surprised me was to find that several colleagues of mine acted the same like myself. I suppose that further enforcing rules for entering US (like for example withdrawing the visa waiver program for EU countries) will make us prefer doing business with Russia rather than with US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Forge ( 2456 )
      All that harassment of decent passengers and once again the true "weapon against hijacking" saves the day. I.e. People don't like to blow up so they will beet the crap out of anyone who tries. If you aim to blow up a plane it had better freaking explode before anyone sees you doing anything suspicious.

      Searching for bombs, detaining luggage, banning liquids etc... helps nobody. Hijack and bombing attempts fail when another passenger beets the crap out of you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Eternauta3k ( 680157 )

        People don't like to blow up so they will beet the crap out of anyone who tries

        Come on, even terrorists don't deserve that kind of treatment []

  • by Simulant ( 528590 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:42AM (#30555662) Journal

        Crazy loner sets off home made firecracker on plane and lights pants on fire.

  • Oh great!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:43AM (#30555668)

    He was coming to the States to deliver my $40,000,000US.

  • Wonderful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:44AM (#30555670)
    Oh, this is wonderful. Now we will probably be strip searched and forced to wear airline clothing. Why not just reconfigure planes to be more like cargo vehicles and put all passengers into a coma and pack and transport them like packages? :(
  • by DieByWire ( 744043 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:46AM (#30555680)
    Our service today includes a light snack, complimentary beverages and a weenie roast in coach class.
  • by Suki I ( 1546431 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:46AM (#30555682) Homepage Journal
    It did not sound like a firecracker in the latest reports I have been hearing on the radio. Latest: it was a powder, plus a liquid from a syringe. My blogger buddy remembered something I forgot, there is a way to ignite thermite with a liquid (potassium permanganate and glycerol? sorry for forgetting), but no idea what this was yet.
  • It used to be... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:47AM (#30555694)

    ... that the plane landed in Havana, the hijacker got off the plane, and everyone went around their business or it landed in Tel-Aviv, the plane on the ground, and the hijackers shot/arrested with one or two dead passengers that the hijackers had killed to show they were "serious". The passengers sat in their seats and waited it out.

    Those were the days when hijackers could depend on the passivity of passengers.

    With planes being flown into buildings, passengers are no longer passive. It's not the TSA that keeps planes safe, it's the passengers and crew that will beat the snot out of the latest Al-Q "martyr."


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There is still a valid purpose in watching for bombs, and has been for decades. The most courageous passengers will do no good if someone manages to set off a usable explosive and blow a hole in the side of the plane.

  • by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) < minus berry> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:49AM (#30555714) Homepage

    The message is clear: Don't fuck with people flying in to Detroit. We have very little to lose. I can see that scenario playing out now:

    "I will blow up the plane!"

    "Jackass, I'm *willingly* leaving a place with universal health care, low crime, and pot on every street corner to go *home* to a city with crushing illiteracy, high crime, and an epic unemployment level. Do you think I really give a flying fuck about dying?"

    I just wonder how many people were uncomfortable with the extra federal attention the flight got when it landed =)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:51AM (#30555720)

    From the desk of Barrister Kofi Kukukuku,
    Ministry of Finance,
    Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    Dear ,

    I hope this message finds you well. I am in urgent need of a representative in you country
    to assist with the transfer of $10 USD Million for legal assistance. The son of the deposed
    dictator Silas Kofi Abdulmutallab who was assassinated in a violent coup in 2007. Is accused
    of attempted bombing of a commercial flight from Amsterdam and is being held Ilegally by the
    United States., who is demanding immediate bribe of $4 USD million for his release.. For your kind
    assistance in this matter we are prepared to pay $5 USD million for simple transfer to an account
    in your country, to prevent further taxation by corrupt officials. To assent, simply reply soonest
    with the following information:

    Your bank account number;
    your address and phone numer;
    your national idenification number for security pruposes.

    I look forward to your kind assistance.


    Barrister Kofi Kukukuku

  • by itsybitsy ( 149808 ) * on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:59AM (#30555770)

    And there was a great big fizzing sound as his device failed to accomplish it's task with was either a detonation or an incendiary intended to burn the plane out of the sky.

    Since it was in his, ahem, pants or pocket he burned himself where it hurts effectively removing himself from the gene pool either by a lifetime of incarceration or more directly by incineration.

    You'd like to think, ouch that's gotta hurt but then who has sympathy for someone attempting to kill other people with explosives or flames?

    In a way you want the lone wolf jihadies to come out of the woodwork and fail since they illuminate their otherwise low key network connections. It's sorta like a flash light in the darkness of terror plots by individuals or states.

  • Fucking douchebag (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @11:23AM (#30555936) Homepage
    Expect the Authorities to milk this event for what it's worth when it comes to justifying mandatory pre-flight anal probing sessions, more mass surveillance and the outlawing of encryption they're not sure how to crack.
  • by Muskstick ( 1522069 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @11:30AM (#30555964)

    I thought Apple had fixed this problem?

    Bet this guy wishes he'd bought an Android.

  • by InsurgentGeek ( 926646 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @11:40AM (#30556042)
    It's important to remember that the goal here is not to bring down planes or buildings - it's to create turmoil and terror. Simple actions like this cause millions to billions of dollars of cost to our economy for the investment of a can of lighter fluid and a firecracker. Because of one case of semi-successful action by one clown millions of us will now be subject to ineffective additional screening, more TSA invasions of privacy and general police state tactics, more delays. I don't have the answer - but I know the ROI from a terrorist perspective is outstanding.
  • Security Theater (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slasho81 ( 455509 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @12:22PM (#30556324)
    After all the billions of dollars spent on TSA, great delays and annoyances to customers, fictitious work of thousands of employees, and the unfathomed damage to the airline industry, the one time when an actual terrorist tries to smuggle explosives on board and all this charade fails spectacularly.

    The response? Add more of the same ineffective measures.

    Thank goodness for the incompetence of the terrorist.
    • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @02:25PM (#30557164)

      "Best" of all, security theatre related: tonight on the TV news it was mentioned that this individual's name was on a list of high-risk terror suspects, some kind of watch list I guess, but not on the no-fly list. So this guy was even on the radar of US security services, and he still managed to pull a stunt like this!

  • Sounds like Kinepak (Score:5, Informative)

    by Deton8 ( 522248 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @01:02PM (#30556596)
    From the vague and incompetent description by the news media, the explosive device sounds like Kinepak or something similar. This is a little tube filled with ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder, plus proprietary stuff; to which you take a tube of red liquid (nitromethane and dye) and pour in the top. Eventually when the liquid soaks all the way through, you have a cap-sensitive blasting agent that's about as strong as dynamite when in a confined place. There's plenty of room for "operator error", though, as this material has to be handled properly if you want it to work. And it needs the right type of blasting cap. But even if he did everything right, I don't think it's powerful enought to bring down a jet unless it hit something critical.
  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @01:12PM (#30556674)

    The sad thing is, these pathetic incompetent terrorists are going to be responsible for causing billions of dollars to spent on extra airport security and many, many lifetimes of time will be wasted in stupid delays.

    Some incompetent terrorists tries to blow up the plane, but can't build a proper electronic detonator that a 10th grader could solder together? Now we all have to be humiliated by taking our shoes off.

    Some incompetent wanna-be terrorists think about a liquid bomb because they saw it in the movie Die Hard 3? Now millions of Americans have to buy overpriced beverages and/or die of thirst. Not to mention that the world's best chemists don't know a reasonable way to make a liquid bomb actually freakin work.

    And now, some useless waste of space terrorist doesn't build a proper bomb using over the counter ingredients like fertilizer/diesel fuel or tannerite. (both are so easy to get that a 10th grader could order either of those explosives). No, the idiot tries to blow up an airliner with what sounds like a gunpowder bomb. And despite only managing to burn his own pants off, undoubtedly some new round of draconian security measures will kill many lifetimes of wasted time at security checkpoints.

    Fact is, the United States has killed far more of it's citizens through reacting to the actions of terrorists than terrorists have ever harmed.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @01:32PM (#30556798)
    ... flying while wearing pants will no longer be permitted.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus