Romulus, Michigan (CNN) — A 23-year-old Nigerian man was charged in a federal criminal complaint Saturday with attempting to destroy a Northwest Airlines aircraft on its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Christmas Day, and with placing a destructive device on the aircraft, the Department of Justice said.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is the son of Alhaji Umar Mutallaba, who recently stepped down as chairman of First Bank PLC in Nigeria, a family source told CNN.
Abdulmutallab suffered burns when he ignited a small explosive device aboard the plane; he was hospitalized in Michigan for his burns. His plans were foiled by crew members and passengers.
The family source told CNN that Abdulmutallab received a college degree in London, England, where he lived for three years.
A spokesman at the University College of London told CNN on Saturday that a student by the name of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was enrolled in the department of mechanical engineering from September 2005 to June 2008. Dave Weston said the college could not confirm whether the former student and Abdulmutallab are the same person.
The last time Abdulmutallab’s family heard from him was two months ago, when they received a text message, the family source said. Abdulmutallab told the family earlier that he had gone to Yemen.
Abdulmutallab went through “normal security procedures” in Amsterdam, and those were “well-performed,” the Netherlands’ national coordinator for counterterrorism told CNN.
Witnesses said they heard a loud pop or bang and saw something burning in Abdulmutallab’s lap.
Passenger Jasper Schuringa told CNN that with the aid of the Northwest flight’s cabin crew, he helped subdue and isolate Abdulmutallab. Crew members and passengers extinguished the small fire.
Schuringa said he saw that Abdulmutallab was holding a burning object between his legs.
“I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away,” said Schuringa, who suffered minor burns on his hands.