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Filthy underpants saved plane and pax from destruction

July 28, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The so-called “underwear bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, failed to blow up a US-bound plane because he wore the underwear bomb for two weeks straight and soiled the underpants, it has emerged.

Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Islamist, attempted to trigger explosives hidden in his underpants on a plane to Detroit in 2009. The underpants bomb was a fizzer and Abdulmutallab succeeded only in injuring himself in a particularly painful region of the anatomy.

US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials told the New York Daily News that the dirty nature of the underwear, having been worn for two weeks without being removed for cleaning, caused the explosive to catch fire rather than detonate when Abdulmutallab tried to set it off on the descent to Detroit Metropolitan Airport aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009.

The device was “degraded,” TSA administrator John Pistole said at the Aspen Institute, when describing why the Nigerian’s bomb failed.

“Thank goodness for bad hygiene,” Herridge added.

It turned out Abdulmutallab wore his underpants all the way from Yemen to Africa and then on to the Netherlands before getting on a flight to Michigan. Days turned into weeks before he thought of changing his underwear.

Pistole wouldn’t reveal whether the explosive was damp, saying that was too much personal information.

Had the underpants exploded, the blast could have killed 290 passengers and the plane’s crew. As it was, passengers seeing a man with his underwear on fire overwhelmed him and brought the situation under control.

Abdulmutallab, 27, pleaded guilty in 2012 and is serving a life sentence at the super-maximum security United States Penitentiary Florence ADMAX in Colorado.

His attempt was the second of two failed attempts by Islamist fanatics in recent years to detonate explosives on airliners.

Richard Reid, a British citizen dubbed “the shoe bomber”, tried to set off a bomb packed in his shoes on a Miami-bound flight from Paris in 2001 but was overpowered by brave passengers. He’s doing life in a US prison as well.

Written by Peter Needham

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