Food Poisoning Blamed In Second Northwest Flight 253 Bomb Scare

Nigerian passenger became "unruly" after crew forced him out of bathroom.

December 27, 2009, 2:29 PM

Dec. 27, 2009 — -- A second scare of a possible bomb on Northwest Airlines flight 253 Sunday was the result of a passenger who refused to come out of the bathroom because he was sick with food poisoning, law enforcement officials told

FBI agents and local police swarmed the plane as it landed in Detroit just after 12:30 local time after the pilot reported an "belligerent and uncooperative" passenger who had spent more than an hour in the bathroom as the flight neared Detroit.

Authorities said the passenger was a 36-year old Nigerian petroleum engineer who became unhappy when he was ordered to his seat one hour before landing, as required under new in-flight rules following the attempted Christmas day bombing of the same flight by another Nigerian citizen. The passenger supervises 90 employees at the multinational petroleum company he works for in Yemen. One official said he appeared to be traveling with his wife.

Authorities took passengers and all baggage of the Northwest flight in a remote location at the Detroit airport. There were 256 passengers on the Amsterdam to Detroit flight.

Officials gave an "all clear" message a short time later after interviewing the Nigerian passenger and determining he was, indeed, ill.

Abdulmutallab Moved to 'Secure Location'

Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Sara Kuban said in a statement that the flight was directed to taxi to a remote area of the airport on landing due after the airline had notified TSA of the passenger's "unusual behavior."

Kuban said the passenger was removed from the flight and interviewed by the FBI. "Indications at this time are that the individual's behavior is due to legitimate illness," said Kuban, "and no other suspicious behavior or materials have been found."

A NORAD spokesman said fighter jets were not scrambled: "We were aware of the situation, but military assistance was not requested."

The Nigerian accused of attempting to blow up Northwest flight 253 on Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told investigators he was part of a "larger plot" and that he believed there were other potential bombers set on similar missions on American aircraft, according to law enforcement officials.


Abdulmutallab, who suffered burns in the incident, was moved from the burn unit of a Michigan hospital to "a secure location," according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. According to Abdulmutallab's attorney, Miriam Siefer, he has been moved to the federal correctional facility in Milan, Michigan.

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