WASHINGTON (AFP, Reuters) - The suspect in an attempt to detonate an explosive device on a Delta Airlines flight outside Detroit is thought to have al Qaeda connections, Representative Peter King told CNN.
The 23-year-old Nigerian, who was subdued by passengers and flight crew, "did appear in a database as far as having a terrorist connection," King said in an interview.
King is a Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
He was aboard an Airbus 330 carrying 278 passengers and was subdued after he attempted to ignite a device as the plane was preparing to land in Detroit, an airline spokeswoman told AFP.
"My understanding is ... that he does have al Qaeda connections, certainly extremist terrorist connections, and his name popped up pretty quickly" in a search of intelligence databases, King said.
US boosts air security after possible airliner bombing attempt
President Barack Obama on Friday ordered increased security for air travel after a man reportedly attempted to bomb an airliner flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
After Obama was informed of the incident he held a secure conference call with his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Advisor John Brennan, and National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough, the White House said.
"He asked to arrange a subsequent secure call and... instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel," the White House said.
"The president is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates," the statement read.
Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, has not changed his schedule, the White House said.
Sandra Berchtold, an FBI spokeswoman in Detroit, told AFP the incident was under investigation and US media reported that the passenger told investigators he was affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
CNN and other broadcast outlets, citing a federal bulletin, said the man told investigators he had acquired the explosive device in Yemen, along with instructions as to when it should be used.
The incident unfolded around noon local time (1700 GMT) aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253.
A spokeswoman for Northwest's parent company Delta told AFP the man tried to light what appeared to be firecrackers.
"The passenger was immediately subdued and Delta is cooperating with authorities in the investigation," said Susan Elliott.
The US Transportation Security Administration said they were rescreening the plane after it landed in Detroit.
"All passengers deplaned and out of an abundance of caution the plane was moved to a remote area where the plane and all the baggage are currently being rescreened," the agency said in a statement.
"A passenger is in custody and passengers are currently being interviewed," the statement added.
The incident drew comparisons with the case of the "shoebomber" Richard Reid, who attempted to bomb a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 by igniting explosives he smuggled aboard in his shoes.
more updates to come...