The Dutch hero credited with halting a suicide bomber's attempt to blow up a plane loaded with Christmas travelers said today the syringe the bomber was holding was on fire and was stuck deep into the bomber's pants.
"I really had to pull it out of his hands because he kind of resisted. And it was also kind of stuck in his underwear," Jasper Schuringa told "Good Morning America" today.
Fresh details emerged today about the terror attack aboard Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas day, largely from "GMA's" interview with Schuringa, the passenger who leaped over plane seats to subdue alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
"When I came to the seats he was holding ... the object which was on fire and smoke was coming out of it," Schuringa said. "I really had to rip the whole object out of his pants."
At the time Schuringa didn't know what he was wrestling out of Abdulmutallab's hands, although authorities now say it was a syringe loaded with an unidentified substance. Whatever was in the syringe was injected into a cocktail of the powerful explosive PETN that was sewn into Abdulmutallab's underwear. Instead of creating an explosion, however, it started a fire.
Others tried to douse the fire by pouring water on Abdulmutallab or patting out the flames with their hands. But there wasn't enough water available to extinguish the fire, which worried Schuringa.
"I was really afraid the guy, the suspect, had more explosives on his body. I thought if this guy gets more fire, we might blow up," Schuringa said. "So I grabbed him and I pulled him out of the seat. I had him in a headlock."
A flight attendant rushed up with a fire extinguisher and doused Abdulmutallab with foam to put out the flames. Another attendant grabbed the suspect by the legs and helped Schuringa drag the burned bomber up to the first class section.
The bomber had sat quielty while on fire, but he was unable to say anything or protest once Schuringa hauled him out of his seat.
"No, he couldn't say anything because I choked him," Schuringa told "GMA."
Bang Heard as Northwest Flight 253 Began Descent to Detroit
When the fire was out and the suspect in custody, one passenger recalled the flight attendant's announcement that the nightmare was over. The flight attendant was just shaking and crying, the passenger remembered.
The nightmare had flared up as the jetliner prepared to land in Detroit. As the plane began to descend, Schuringa said he heard a "bang."
"We couldn't locate where the bang came from which was kind of scary and everybody was looking around," he said. "Then after a couple of seconds like all the passengers started to scream 'Fire!' Then I looked to my left. All the way on the other side of the plane there was this person sitting, the suspect."
"In the beginning, there was more smoke because he was kind of covered with a blanket. Then this smoke was getting more and more intense. And when I saw the first flame coming up, that's when I knew it was actually wrong and I jumped to the suspect," Schuringa said.
Schuringa said he was alarmed because of the suspect's behavior.
"A normal person will stand up if he's on fire," he said. "But this guy was, you know, he was on fire and sitting down. So then I knew he was trying to ignite something."
Schuringa said the actions others have deemed heroic came from instinct and knowing that if he didn't do something, the entire plane could have exploded.
"It just came automatically. I have no clue. I had to do something," he said. "If you wait, you might die."
Abdulmutallab was transfered Sunday from the University of Michigan Medical Center, where he had been treated for burns, to a federal prison 50 miles outside Detroit. He faces a federal court hearing today, but is not expected to attend.
Abdulmutallab had been placed on the terrorist watch list after his father contacted U.S. officials and warned them of his son's alleged terrorist ties, but was not on the no-fly list. He boarded the plane to the U.S. using a valid visa.