How Safe Are Our Skies? Detroit Flight 253 (BBC Documentary)


This documentary investigates the events concerning AQAP’s attempted aircraft Christmas bombing in 2009.  Key findings include:

1) Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, did not fit the typical profile of an AQAP terrorist.

2) His intended route was from Accra to Lagos, Lagos to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Detroit.

3) AQ had experimented with an underwear bomb pass metal detectors four months before Flight 253 with the attempted assassination Muhammed bin Nayef by Abdullah Al-Asiri, brother of notorious AQAP bomb maker Ibrahim Al-Asiri.

4) Abdulmutallab may have been radicalized by Anwar Al-Awlaki while in Yemen.

5) After warnings from Abdulmutallab’s father to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, the State Department sent the NCTC a visa viper flag. Abdulmutallab was placed on the TIDE database.

6) Abdulmutallab was able to ignite his device, but it only caught fire and did not explode.

7) If Abdulmutallab’s device was able to explode, Dr. John Wyatt, a U.N. Blast Consultant, argued that the exterior of the plane would hold and that the bomber and the person adjacent to him would likely be the only casualties on the plane.

8) The failure to intercept Abdulmutallab led to a reform of database information sharing for the U.S. intelligence community.

9) Another approach to preventing attacks on aircraft include full body scanners or behavioral profiling.


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