Attempted Bombing of Flight 253 On Christmas Day
The Justice Department announced Wednesday that Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian national, was charged today
in a six-count criminal indictment returned in the Eastern District
of Michigan for his alleged role in the attempted Christmas day
bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam, the
Netherlands, to Detroit.
Count one of the indictment charges Abdulmutallab with attempted
use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a penalty of up
to life in prison. Count two of the indictment charges him with
attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the
United States, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Count three of the indictment charges him with willful attempt to
destroy or wreck an aircraft within the special aircraft
jurisdiction of the United States, which carries a penalty of up to
20 years in prison.
Count four of the indictment charges Abdulmutallab with
willfully placing a destructive device on an aircraft within the
special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, which was
likely to endanger the safety of such aircraft. This violation
carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Count five of the
indictment charges him with use of a firearm/destructive device
during and in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a
consecutive mandatory 30 years in prison. Count six of the
indictment charges the defendant with possession of a
firearm/destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence,
which carries a consecutive mandatory 30 years in prison
"The charges that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab faces could imprison
him for life," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "This
investigation is fast-paced, global and ongoing, and it has already
yielded valuable intelligence that we will follow wherever it
leads. Anyone we find responsible for this alleged attack will be
brought to justice using every tool -- military or judicial --
available to our government."
"The attempted murder of 289 innocent people merits the most
serious charges available, and that's what we have charged in this
indictment," said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney
for the Eastern District of Michigan.
According to the indictment, Northwest Airlines flight 253
carried 279 passengers and 11 crewmembers. Abdulmutallab allegedly
boarded Northwest Airlines flight 253 in Amsterdam on Dec. 25, 2009
carrying a concealed bomb. The bomb components included
Pentaerythritol (also known as PETN, a high explosive), as well as
Triacetone Triperoxide (also known as TATP, a high explosive), and
The bomb was concealed in the defendant's clothing and was
designed to allow him to detonate it at a time of his choosing,
thereby causing an explosion aboard flight 253, according to the
indictment. Shortly prior to landing at Detroit Metropolitan
Airport, Abdulmutallab detonated the bomb, causing a fire on board
According to an affidavit filed in support of a criminal
complaint, Abdulmutallab was subdued and restrained by the
passengers and flight crew after detonating the bomb. The airplane
landed shortly thereafter, and he was taken into custody by U.S.
Customs and Border Protection officers. Abdulmutallab required
medical treatment, and was transported to the University of
Michigan Medical Center after the plane landed.
This prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office
for the Eastern District of Michigan, with assistance from the
Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department's National
The investigation is being conducted by the Detroit Joint
Terrorism Task Force, which is led by the FBI and includes U.S.
Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, the Federal Air Marshal Service, and other law
enforcement agencies. Additional assistance has been provided by
the Transportation Security Administration, the State Department's
Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Wayne County Airport police, as
well as international law enforcement partners.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains mere
allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until
proven guilty in a court of law.