'Attempted Act of Terrorism' Triggers Higher Alert Level

White House: In-flight incident was 'attempted act of terrorism'
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2009 5:48 PM CST
Updated Dec 25, 2009 6:35 PM CST
Northwest Airlines Flight 253 is shown after landing at Detroit Metropolitan Airport from Amsterdam today.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The US government has raised the terror alert level for airline flights to orange, the second-highest designation, after today’s incident involving a passenger on a Detroit-bound jet that the White House says was "an attempted act of terrorism." Earlier, a 23-year-old Nigerian claiming ties to al-Qaeda tried to ignite a powder he had smuggled aboard the flight from Amsterdam.

The suspect has been identified as Abdul Mudallad, Rep. Peter King told the Wall Street Journal after he was briefed by security officials. Mudallad wasn’t on US terror watchlists, King said, adding that a security breach in Lagos, Nigeria, where the flight originated before a stop in Amsterdam, looks to have allowed him to smuggle aboard a device that “was fairly sophisticated. … This was not a firecracker.”

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