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Timeline of Northwest Airlines Flight 235

Friday, 2:45 a.m.: Northwest Airlines Flight 253, an Airbus 330 carrying 279 passengers and 11 crew members, takes off 5 minutes late from Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport, bound for Detroit. The flight is scheduled to land at 11:40 a.m. at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Mich.


Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a passenger, spends about 20 minutes in the bathroom.

Abdulmutallab returns to his seat, says his stomach was upset and pulls a blanket over him. Other passengers hear popping noises, smell an odor and observe Abdulmutallab’s pants leg and the wall of the airplane on fire.

Passengers and crew subdue Abdulmutallab and use blankets and fire extinguishers to put out the fire.

A flight attendant asks Abdulmutallab what he has in his pocket, and he replies, “Explosive device.”

One passenger sees Abdulmutallab holding what appears to be partially melted syringe, which is smoking. He takes the syringe from Abdulmutallab, shakes it and throws it to the floor.

12:01 p.m.: Flight 253 lands at the Detroit airport. Abdulmutallab is taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection officers.

SOURCES: U.S. Justice Department criminal complaint and affidavit; Northwest Airlines; news reports


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