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Safety reviews underway after airliner attack

December 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Just two days after the failed terror attack on Northwest flight 253, another incident on the same Detroit-bound flight happened Sunday.A passenger claiming to have food poisoning locked himself in the bathroom and became belligerent adding to already heightened concerns about airline safety.

This comes as the calls for a reevaluation of airport security procedures grow louder.

FBI agents and police swarmed flight 253 on Sunday at the Detroit airport.

Authorities later determined that the Nigerian man was sick with food poisoning and not a threat.

Also on Sunday Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man who was accused of trying to blow up that same flight on Christmas day, was released from a Michigan Hospital where he was treated for burns.

The 23-year-old is now in a federal prison in Michigan. He is charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft and placing a destructive device on a plane.

Investigators believe Abdulmutallab cleared security in Amsterdam carrying the explosive PETN and possibly a glycol-based liquid explosive.

"I don't think anybody dropped the ball, he went through appropriate security," Former FBI Assistant Director Thomas Fuentes said. "I don't know if any security in the world, at least the regular security would have detected him. PETN is a powdery substance, the igniter is a liquid chemical, it would only take an ounce or two probably to make it work properly."

The bomb did not go off on the plane, but the materials did spark a fire.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs Sunday announced a review of air safety, saying the government will examine its systems for placing people on watch lists and for detecting explosives before passenger's board flights.

"How does a person on the terrorism watch list get a U.S. visa? I mean, particularly when you consider that his father was concerned about his son's proclivities this fall," Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said. "I think there's much to investigate here."

Officials said Abdulmutallab came to the attention of U.S. intelligence last month when his father told the American embassy in Nigeria about his son's increasingly extremist views.

"If he had had specific information that would have put him on the selectee list or indeed on the no-fly list," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explained. "He would not have actually gotten on a plane."

Federal prosecutors are scheduled to attend a hearing on Monday where they are expected to ask a judge for permission to obtain DNA samples from Abdulmutallab.


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