Page last updated at 23:45 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

US charges Nigerian suspect over plane bomb plot

Booking photo of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab released by US authorities on 28 December 2009
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been in custody since 25 December

A US grand jury has indicted Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on six counts over an alleged plot to bomb a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.

The charges against the 23-year-old include attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder of 290 people on board the plane.

Mr Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate a bomb on Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The plane landed safely after crew and passengers overpowered him.

There were 279 passengers and 11 crew on board.

Anyone we find responsible for this alleged attack will be brought to justice using every tool - military or judicial
Attorney General Eric Holder

Mr Abudmutallab allegedly concealed two explosives - PETN and TATP - in his clothing with other ingredients to make a bomb, according to the court document.

The indictment said the bomb was designed for him to detonate at a time of his choosing.

The counts are:

  • attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction
  • attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the US
  • wilful attempt to destroy and wreck an aircraft
  • wilfully placing a destructive device in or near an aircraft which was likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft
  • two counts of possession of a firearm, ie the bomb, in furtherance of violent crime.

An arraignment will be held on Friday, where the charges will be read to Mr Abdulmutallab and he will have the opportunity to enter a plea.

Attorney General Eric Holder said that the investigation into the bomb plot was "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," he said.

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mr Abdulmutallab had "spent a number of hours with FBI investigators in which we gleaned usable, actionable intelligence".

The alleged bombing attempt prompted airport screening changes in numerous countries, with some moving to introduce body scanners.

US President Barack has strongly criticised US intelligence officials for failing to do more to prevent the plot, saying they knew enough about it but failed "to connect the dots".

US intelligence officials had known that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which claimed involvement in the plot, had been planning an attack against America.

Mr Obama also said they knew the group had been working with an individual - now known to be Mr Abdulmutallab.

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