Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Attempted Christmas Airplane Bombing: What Do You Think? – [Updated x2] "Crotch Bomber"

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old young man from Nigeria, tried to make his statement by blowing up the plane he was on from Amsterdam to Detroit.  According to passengers “there was a pop, and then a puff of smoke”, and then the young man was tackled by passengers and subdued.

CNN and all the news channels are providing all the information (and arguably more) that anyone could ask for.  The question I have for all of you is:

“What if anything do you take away from this incident?”

For anyone who has missed the news, this event took place as Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam was preparing to land in Detroit.  The device seems not to have worked so well and instead of exploding caught on fire, burning the young man badly.  His father, a retired banker, had become worried about his son’s radicalization while attending college in England and had reported him to the local US Embassy when he left college to go to Yemen and study “the school of Islam.

My take?

Very glad he failed, it could have been both terrible for those on board and their loved ones as well as for the country as a whole.  However, all in all I think it will have little impact on the world and that in itself is the news.

The ability to instill Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) decreases with exposure.  This incident in the end will act more as an inoculation to terrorist FUD among the population than it will to infect them with the disorder.  You remain much more likely to be in a random airplane incident than an intentional one, and even more likely to be killed by a car while walking your dog.

[Update]  The same Delta flight – 253 – is now again at the same remote location at the same Detroit airport after another issue with another Nigerian passenger.

WaPo has this:

The Associated Press has learned that a second Nigerian man has been taken into custody aboard a jetliner in Detroit after locking himself in the airliner’s bathroom.

The passenger apparently was in the bathroom for an hour, and was then “disruptive”.

The passengers are off the plane at this point

[Update 2]  Someone just coined the phrase “Crotch Bomber”, I recommend repeating it endlessly… :~)


  1. Aren’t al queda members superhuman jihadists that are too powerful to hold in supermax prisons in this country? I guess that means this guy was a ‘wanna be’. Another guess would be that there is going to be a run on adult diapers in conservative areas. They must be pissing themselves in fear and crapping their pants in joy all at the same time. This proves Obambi is weak on terrorists and, in addition, John and Mary Jane in rural Arkansas are right to lock themselves and their gun collection in their cellar every night. I can hardly wait to hear what Darth Vader and his daughter have to say about it.

  2. sricki

    formulated an opinion yet, actually. I think it will likely keep security beefed up here for a while, but internationally it may not have a great deal of significance. Relieved that things went as they did though — could have been disastrous for the passengers, Obama, and the country.

  3. louisprandtl

    to US Embassy, why wasn’t he on the “terrorist watch list”!

    If he was, why was he allowed to board the plane to US? Likewise these are broader questions needs to be answered. Are our agencies coordinating properly and information being exchanged appropriately?  

  4. spacemanspiff

    According to passengers “there was a pop, and then a puff of smoke”, and then the young man was tackled by passengers and subdued.

    Before 9/11 I would probably have never attempted to rush or take down a terrorist on a plane. Now?

    If I don’t see a gun.  I’m doing what these passengers did.

  5. Cheryl Kopec

    I already felt our airport security rules were too stifling, but now, no getting out of your seat in the last hour of the flight? That’s when I usually take my last potty break before the interminable off-loading, baggage-claim, customs etc. process. That’s when I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and try to make myself semi-presentable before landing. WHAT IS SO F***ING SPECIAL about the last hour of flight, except that this a$$hole decided to perform his ill-fated deed at that time? Hey, wouldn’t it be even more scary and devastating had it been right over the middle of the ocean? I’m coming to the conclusion that next time I fly, I will travel in a body-hugging spandex suit with one small carry-on and just buy the rest of my clothes and necessities when I get there, and mail them back before I leave. Too bad we don’t have a good rail system here, or I’d do train/boat. If only those weren’t so slow….

  6. Elch

    and that is the existence of bravery of the “normal people” which stopped an incident from happening.

    I fly frequently international and luckily with minor incidents so far. In one case I were able to assist in a medical issue just by providing some original Aspirin after the flight crew announced a request. In a similar case my plane had to reroute to Iceland to disembark a passenger as a precaution.

    Over time it appeared to me that the very same security standards differ from airport to airport, even if within the same country. Sometimes it beeps when I’m asked to keep my belt on (because of metal!) and sometimes not, just one example.

    Schneier repeatedly blogged on airport security if you are interested.

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