Somali Caught in Nov. With Detroit-Type Bomb
US officials are now aware of incident and probing connections
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 30, 2009 10:27 AM CST
Northwest Airlines Flight 253.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – A man tried to board a commercial airliner in Mogadishu last month carrying powdered chemicals, liquid, and a syringe that could have caused an explosion in a case bearing chilling similarities to the Christmas terrorist plot, officials say. The Somali man was arrested by African Union peacekeeping troops before the Nov. 13 Daallo Airlines flight took off. It had been scheduled to travel from Mogadishu to the northern Somali city of Hargeisa, then to Djibouti and Dubai. He is in Somali custody.

"We don't know whether he's linked with al-Qaeda or other foreign organizations, but his actions were the acts of a terrorist. We caught him red-handed," says a Somali police spokesman. An AU spokesman says the chemicals could have caused an explosion that would have caused air decompression inside the plane, but he doesn't believe an explosion would have brought the plane down. Somalia lies across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, where the Detroit bomber is thought to have trained, and large swaths of Somalia are controlled by an insurgent group that has ties to al-Qaeda.