Thursday, December 31, 2009

How Dutch Thrift Thwarted Islamic Christmas Terror Plot

Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad has sat down in Miami with Jasper Schuringa, the man who jumped and subdued the Muslim terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day flight NW253. Here's a short translation.

"As I jumped him I saw the fear in his eyes"

He's still shocked about what happened. "It was truly a bizarre experience. But I'm thankful I'm alive." He felt rage as he jumped the Muslim terrorist. "I was so angry he wanted to kill all these people. Together with another person I dragged him to the front of the plane. There I tore up his clothes to see if he was hiding any more explosives. I even checked his shoes. The passengers on the plane got a second chance and I didn't want to waste it."

He realizes if Umar had it his way, he'd be dead by now. "I was seated quite close to him; had he succeeded I wouldn't even have been aware of what happened. But for passengers in the front and in the back of the plane it would have been hell. They would have crashed and burnt alive. I can't understand why somebody would want to do such a thing. All those children! Why should you want to kill them? I saw the fear in Umar's eyes as I jumped him: apparently he does have feelings."

"Umar thought he was already in Heaven ... then he saw me"

He's exhausted. He hasn't had a rest since his name jumped to the front pages of the newspapers. He watches as CNN shows the remains of Umar's underwear. "Are those his knickers?" he asks. "I touched those!" The bandages have been removed from his hands, but the wounds are still visible. He got that when he doused the fire.

He looks relaxed, but his eyes are red from lack of sleep. I haven't had the time to go out with friends or grab a beer. My phone nearly exploded. He makes clear he hasn't been paid for interviews. Not a penny. Only recently it dawned on him how close to death he's been. "Only Saturday I learnt the amount of explosives were sufficient to blow us all up. Later I heard Umar acted on behalf of Al Qaeda. Then it dawned on me what had happened. Wow!"

He believes he isn't  traumatized psychologically. "I'm surprised myself. I was quite calm in the plane, and also afterwards. It's said you break down once adrenaline levels normalize. So I expected to collapse once I'd arrived in Miami, but no, I'm still standing. The film maker recalls the moment, just before landing in Detroit. He heard a thudding noise and somebody screamed "fire". Next to me sat a pilot. We looked at each other and realized, this isn't good. I looked at Umar. A normal person gets up on his feet when his chair's on fire, but not him. Then I knew. This is a terrorist attack."

He jumped six chairs and two aisles to the left hand side of the plane and grabbed him. "I had to yank hard to rip the explosives from his body. In the meantime I tried to douse the fire. How I knew what to do? I didn't. Perhaps I'd seen it done in a movie."

It's almost as if the Frisian knew what was coming. Eight years ago he wrote the film script 'Destination Amsterdam' that eerily resembles what happened on Christmas Day. "It's about a suicide bomber plotting to kill a politician at Amsterdam Airport. But the bomb fails to explode. Like Umar's. He thought he was already in Heaven ... but then he saw me."

After landing at Detroit Schuringa was interrogated extensively by the FBI. They wanted to keep me there even longer, but he demanded to continue his trip to Miami. "I'd worked so hard the last couple of days. I just wanted to take a break and see my girl friend."

The shoes and clothes he'd been wearing were confiscated for forensic purposes. FBI agents quickly bought him clothes from a golfshop at the airport. "I looked like a clown! The pants were too large and they'd bought me weird slippers I refused to wear." Bare footed he trotted to his connecting flight. No, he isn't afraid of flying. "What are  the odds of this happening again?"

He isn't aware of the commotion he has caused in his homeland. He frowns at the word 'statue'; he doesn't think he's a hero. "I was at the right place, at the right time, that's all there's to it. Besides, I wasn't alone - others helped too." All the attention takes some getting used to. "I'm a fairly reticent person. It's rather strange that all of a sudden everyone knows who I am."

Another paper - De Telegraaf - reported this morning Schuringa has been moved to an FBI safehouse in Miami.Unlike the Dutch National Counter Terrorism Coordinator, who advised no extra precautions were necessary for thwarting Al Qaeda, the FBI isn't taking any chances.

Proverbial Dutch frugality may have saved the day. In the article his parents relate how their son originally planned to fly a day earlier. But the Christmas Day ticket was much cheaper, so he took that flight.

Earlier posts on this subject:

- "The Case of the Undocumented Crotch Bomber"
- "Christmas Cracker Turns Man-Made Disaster Escape"


- Telegraph: "Detroit terror attack: A murderous ideology tolerated for too long" - Telegraph View: Jihadist Islamism is comparable to Nazism in many respects. The British public realises this; so do the intelligence services. Hat Tip: American Power
- BBC: "Obama to receive reports on plane bomb security lapses"
- WSJ: "Court Freed Somali Plane Suspect"
- NY Daily News: "White House attacks Cheney over his accusations that administration is soft on terror", by Catey Hill


Donald Douglas said...

Have a great New Years tonight, Cassandra, and a fabulous 2010!

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