According to the New York Times, the suspect:
“tried to ignite an explosive device aboard a trans-Atlantic Northwest Airlines flight as the plane prepared to land in Detroit on Friday, in an incident the United States believes was ‘an attempted act of terrorism,’ according to a White House official who declined to be identified.
The device, described by officials as a mixture of powder and liquid, failed to fully detonate. Passengers on the plane described a series of pops that sounded like firecrackers.
“‘This was the real deal,’ said Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, who was briefed on the incident and said something had gone wrong with the explosive device, which he described as somewhat sophisticated. ‘This could have been devastating,’ Mr. King said.
“A senior Department of Homeland Security official said that the materials Mr. Abdulmutallab had on him were ‘more incendiary than explosive,’ and that he had tried to ignite them to cause a fire as the airliner was approaching Detroit.”
“Mr. Abdulmutallab is said to have told officials that he was directed by Al Qaeda, the counterterrorism official expressed caution about that claim, saying ‘it may have been aspirational.'”
Please check out the full story for more details. Reading this story, my main reaction was concern and relief, but I also saw a fascinating parallel with Clay Shirky‘s Here Comes Everybody, which I am currently reading. It is easiest to express in a question:
What does Mr. Abdulmutallab’s use of technology tell us about the coevolution of social movements (particularly those which erupt into terrorism) and technology?
“Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – the words live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It is immortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.”-J. Michael Straczynski