Man Attempts to Set Off Explosives on Detroit-Bound Airplane

Man Tried to Ignite Explosives on Plane, Law Enforcement Says

Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Sandra R. Berchtold from the Detroit office confirmed that the FBI was at the airport, but she would not comment further.

"All passengers have deplaned and out of an abundance of caution, the plane was moved to a remote area where the plane and all baggage are currently being rescreened," the Transportation Security Administration, which handles aircraft and airplane safety, said in a statement. "A passenger is in custody and passengers are being interviewed."

The aircraft was an Airbus A330-300, twin-engine jet carrying 278 passengers.

President Obama was notified of the incident by his military aide between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Detroit time or 9 a.m. in Hawaii, where the Obamas are vacationing, according to White House spokesman Bill Burton.

The president subsequently convened a secure conference call with John Brennan, his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism adviser, and Denis McDonough, acting chief of staff for the National Security Council.

Obama then instructed that "all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel."

"The President is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates. There is currently no change to his schedule," Burton said in a statement.

TSA has a layered approach to security that the agency says allows it to surge resources as needed on a daily basis. It would not give specifics except that it has the ability to quickly implement additional screening measures including explosive detection canine teams, gate screening, behavior detection and other measures "both seen and unseen." The TSA said these measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passenger should not expect to see the same thing at every airport.

The Department of Homeland Security said Secretary Janet Napolitano has been briefed on the incident and is closely monitoring the situation.

The agency, which includes the TSA, said passengers may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights.

"As always we encourage the traveling public to be observant and aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement officials," the agency said in a statement.

Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Richard Reid, a British citizen and al Qaeda operative, tried to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoe.

Passengers on the flight complained of smelling smoke shortly after the meal service, and Reid was found trying to light a match. He was subdued by other passengers on the plane and the flight was diverted to Boston's Logan International Airport.

Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in January 2003 and is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Florence, Colo. His actions, in part, are why we must all now take off our shoes as part of the airport security screening process.

"Eight years after Richard Reid attempted to blow up an airliner with explosives hidden in his shoe, today's incident, on Christmas Day, is a disturbing reminder that the terrorist threat is still very real and that we must continue to be vigilant and alert," U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said in a statement.

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