WASHINGTON (AP) - Background information has emerged on the case against a 23-year-old Nigerian man was charged Saturday with trying to destroy a Northwest Airlines flight. The man had attached a powerful explosive device to his body, reportedly with plans to ignite the devise as the jetliner approached the Detroit airport on Christmas Day.
Passengers told federal investigators that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - who sparked a fire instead of an explosion when he set off the device - went to the bathroom for about 20 minutes first. When he returned to his seat, he said he had an upset stomach and pulled a blanket over him.
Passengers said they then heard a popping noise, similar to a firecracker. They smelled an odor and some passengers saw Abdulmutallab's pant leg and the wall of the airplane on fire.
A passenger told federal investigators that Abdulmutallab was holding a partially melted syringe that was smoking.
A preliminary analysis of the device shows that it contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol. Convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid used this material when he tried to destroy a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoes.
One law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the suspect had used a condom or condom-like bag to hide the PETN near his genitals. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, Abdulmutallab's father warned U.S. officials of concerns about his son's extremest religious beliefs in November. U.S. authorities told The Associated Press that the suspect came to the attention of intelligence officials when his father went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss his concerns.
One government official said the father did not have any specific information that would put him on the "no-fly list" or on the list for additional security checks at the airport. Nor was the information sufficient to revoke Abdulmutallab's Visa to visit the United States.