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Pretty Interesting Pax Account of Flt 253 into DTW

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Voice Of Reason

Reading Is Fundamental !
Sep 21, 2004

(Below, omitted the lengthy preliminary and ending chatter (still had to break into two posts), go to link above for entire article)

Roey Rosenblith

Director of Village Energy, Uganda
Posted: December 27, 2009 10:30 AM

Over Detroit Skies
"Just after they announced that we would be landing I heard two people yelling, screaming, then it grew to a muffled chorus of yells and cries, the words "Fire, there's a fire," drifted back to where I was sitting in economy window seat 38J. I looked at my companion in next seat over, 38I. He was young man in his early 20s, finance major from the University of Ohio who had been studying in Milan. He looked more confused than afraid tilting his head incredulously trying to figure out what was happening. As I recount this I can't even remember his name. Everything up until that point was just so normal and unmemorable. The niceties shared as we sat down. "I work in Uganda starting a solar power business; I'm a student taking a semester abroad." As we listened to the screams I touched his arm and wondered if he was going to be the last person I ever spoke with. My Ugandan cell phone was dead, and probably not going to work in Detroit, so calling my family once last time was not going to happen. I looked out the window and saw nothing but thick white clouds, and water droplets rushing past. The simple fact that there was no escape from whatever was happening quickly set in.
Suddenly a female flight attendant, a middle-aged Asian woman with shoulder-length black hair, rushed past our aisle from the front with incredible speed, grabbed something from one of the overhead compartments in the back, and then ran back up the opposite aisle. Later I would find out she was grabbing a fire extinguisher. I was filled with an intense sense of trepidation, the instinct to run was overwhelming, but there was nowhere to run to in this metal tube filled with almost 300 people. All you could do was look around at your fellow travelers, who were doing just what you were doing: trying not to panic, looking around for some clue in the eyes and faces of other passengers if anyone knew what was happening .
Eventually the screams and sounds of struggle subdued. A voice came on the intercom, a male flight attendant who earlier had served me my breakfast and lunch, then collected my trash. In a voice that was struggling to stay calm he said, "Everything is under control! Your federally trained flight attendants have the situation under control. We are now landing. The landing gear is down! Stay in your seats, we are getting ready to land." Suddenly the plane began a sharp descent. The Asian flight attendant came back to where we were and took her seat opposite the first row in the economy area waving her hands in a downward motion for people to stay seated, and then slumping against the wall before strapping herself in.
As we began descending the worst fear I have ever experienced in my life set in. Not knowing what had happened it was unclear that we were going to land safely. Was there a mechanical failure? Was the fire inside or outside the plane. How did it start? Electrical problems? Why had people been screaming? Did they look out the window and see the wing on fire? How did the smoke spread to inside the cabin? What were our chances of surviving? For ten more minutes as we descended nothing was answered, we all seemed to be trapped in a kind of mental limbo, incapable of speech. Across the aisle from me there was a young mother of Indian descent and her son who looked to be around five. I smiled at him in some sort of attempt to make him believe that everything was normal, he smiled back at me, seeming to be blissfully unaware that his short time on Earth could soon be coming to an end.
As we made our way through the thick cloud cover I begin to see patches of the green and gray, the drab suburbs of Detroit, they seemed as beautiful as a light house beckoning to a ship lost in a stormy sea. For the first time an intense fear gave way to the hope that we might all live to see another day. As the land got closer, that hope grew, and when we hit the runway the airplane broke out in grateful applause.
Another male flight attendant with glasses came in, "For everyone in the back, we had an incident, someone tried to start a fire, but we took care of it. The authorities will be coming on the plane, everyone stay in your seats until they get off." I remember telling my seat mate, the Ohio State guy, that we weren't going to be going anywhere for a while. Everyone is going to need to get screened -- this guy was trying to blow up the plane.
As we began to taxi down the runway, I could see yellow emergency fire vehicles coming in after the plane. After them a white SUV with flashing police sirens on top. The plane taxied to a gate, and immediately up ahead I could see security officials enter the plane and take someone off. Shortly afterward a young man with sandy blonde hair and a striped green-and-white shirt stood up and walked out as well. As he made his way down the aisle, there was more applause and a few cheers.
For about thirty more minutes we stayed in our seats. An old African man stood up, to pull something out of his overhead compartment. Everyone started yelling at him, but he explained he needed his medication. A flight attendant told him if he didn't sit down he would be the next one escorted off by security officials. Finally the captain spoke, "We apologize for this happening, and we wish incidents like this would never occur. Apparently someone brought firecrackers on the plane. Please prepare to exit, we realize some of you need to make connecting flights and we apologize for the delay. If Detroit is your final destination, please stay seated and let those who are making connecting flights get off first." No dice, everyone got up at once.
As we were exiting the plane to my immediate right I saw Jasper Schuringa being attended to by paramedics and police, his hands already wrapped in bandages from what appeared to be intense burns. We made our way down to customs, many people complaining about the delay, and not being able to get home for Christmas. But when we got to the customs gate, instead of being met by the usual lines and immigration personnel we found nobody there. We were met by police officers who led us straight past customs to the baggage collection area.
There were hundreds of police officers; eventually they told us there were 250 agents. About 20 of them were directly in front of us, creating a barrier that funneled us into a corner behind the first two luggage carousels. There was no explanation, no time table, and no communication of what was to happen next. People attempting to call their families were told immediately to shut off their phones. When officers were asked what was happening they politely said they didn't know, but were under orders to keep us all in this area until further notice.
As the first hour went by we begin to settle in. I found the British girl who had been sitting in the same row as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab. We all just kept talking to each other, trying to piece a story together as to what happened. Slowly a picture began to emerge. After the announcement that we were landing started, there was a popping sound, like a gun that went off. The next thing was a three-foot orange flame from where the suspect was sitting, between an old woman and another man. The man he was sitting next to immediately put this guy in a headlock and then someone, presumably Jasper Schuringa, jumped from two rows back into the man's seat and pulled him into the aisle grabbing whatever was on fire and trying to put it out. People started screaming and passing up bottles of water, then they put a blanket over it, but the blanket caught on fire. Others described the water having very little effect, making a sizzling sound. Apparently the fire extinguisher was what put it out. They stripped him at some point, pulled down his pants and took off his shirt. They then pulled the guy up front and tied him down.
"Firecrackers, the guy was crazy, you 'd have to be crazy to bring something like that on the plane."
Most people seemed to be in denial of what I saw was evident. This guy wanted to kill all of us, he had wanted to blow up the plane. When I said this, they would just shake their heads; even those that had seen it happen didn't want to believe it.
We stayed in the baggage claim area for 3 hours without any word of what happened next. We were only allowed into the bathroom one person at a time by an officer who guarded the door. Behind the line of our immediate security detail there were hundreds of other police officers moving around back and forth, as if they were on they were on the night watch guarding a military base from a potential threat. What they were doing was unclear. The only thing that I recall happening is seeing an Indian guy off to the side, an older gentleman wearing a gray suit leaning against the wall. Suddenly there was a police officer next to him pulling his arms back and pulling handcuffs on him. The man didn't struggle, the bags which seemed to be his were left there, and he and the police officer disappeared around the corner.
Eventually plain clothes officers with necklace badges appeared. We assumed these guys were the head honchos everyone was waiting for, FBI and Homeland Security folks. Shortly after they arrived we were suddenly moved to another location.

..."They marched everyone back across the customs desks, into an adjacent corridor. After we had all been moved into this rather tight place we waited for about half an hour. An officer then started to talk to us, his voice echoing down the hall.
"We have had a serious incident today, we thank you for your patience but we have to wait and sort this all through. We realize you have been delayed and want to get you home to your loved ones."
This prompted some angry responses, some passengers demanded to see their lawyers, others said they wanted food and water. This last demand was answered affirmatively; the officers promised they were securing snacks and water for everyone. The officer continued:
"But every single one of you will need to be interviewed today. Before you go home. How many people here don't speak English? Raise your hand."
This last message prompted a bit of laughter. Most people seemed to be able to speak English but there were probably a handful of older and younger people that didn't. Next to where I was sitting there was a mother and daughter from Wisconsin that had just adopted two Ethiopian children, a boy and girl of about six. Neither spoke English, and apparently this was their first airplane trip anywhere. Their adopted mother was very hopeful that they had no idea what was happening. In our little group there was a Somali guy, apparently an electrical engineer who had recently received US citizenship, who offered them comfort in the few Amharic words he knew.
Suddenly a tall plain clothes officer appeared. Oddly he was wearing a sweater, athletic shorts, and sneakers. As if he had been called in mid-workout. Only his necklace badge made it evident he was with the authorities. As he was walking down the corridor, he asked people a new question, "We have been told someone was videotaping the incident. If you were videotaping the incident can you please make yourself known." A few people around me confirmed that they saw a guy videotaping the whole thing. I told them they should talk to the officers and help identify the guy. A few got up and followed the police officer around, searching for him. I still don't know if they found him.
For the next twenty minutes I talked to a young American-Chinese girl named Jena who was working in Vienna for a renewable energy foundation, called Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP). Since I was starting a renewable energy company, Village Energy, to provide affordable electricity to folks in East Africa, we had something in common. We joked this was an odd place to network, but nonetheless exchanged business cards and even talked about the recent Copenhagen UN Climate Conference and strategies for getting affordable renewable power to the developing world. We were joined by our Somali compatriot, who as an electrical engineer who had lived in Africa had some interesting insights. But near the end of our talk, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the severity of what took place and said "I don't think this guy was crazy. I think he wanted to blow us up. Everyone seems to be in denial but that's the only thing that makes sense, he wanted to kill all of us." No one said anything in response.
Soon we were directed back to the baggage claim area and officers started bringing everyone's luggage on carts. Three officers then appeared with security K-9 dogs and systematically had the dogs sniff all our hand luggage. Apparently over the last few hours all the check in bags had also been meticulously searched. Next up were the interviews. They had set up chairs and one and two at a time every passenger was screened and their accounts written down. I gave my account of everything I experienced then was ushered back into customs.
As I gave the customs agent my passport, I asked him if he knew what happened to the guy who started the fire. The customs agent stamped my passport and said, "All I know is, he's never going to see the light of day." " ...
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Nope-not very interesting.
So this one time I went to the store. On the way there I stopped and got gas. I saw a elderly man pumping gas also, felt like we had more in common. After I pumped the gas I went in and was pleased to see they had a dd inside, I got a regular coffee with cream and sugar. I got back in my car and began to drive, enjoying my coffee. Next I stopped at the post office, saw my neighbor there and we bagan to talk about the browns and the poor choice for coach, jim was busy though and had to leave so I continued to the clerk and purchased stamps. Got back in my car and began to drive again when I remebered I had coffee, yum.. finally I made it to the grocery store, where I had to hurry, didn't want to miss a new episode of dancing with the stars! After shopping I got back in my car drove home, where I had to get all the food in the house quickly. Wouldn't u know it as I was getting out I bumped my coffee and it spilled all over the front seat. Now I got all the food in but I had to clean up the coffee and it was cold outside after I cleaned it all up I looked at the clock and saw the dwts was all most over, but to my surprise the wife tivod it! So I just headed to the shower and after decided it was time to go to bed, where I got in a solid 8 hrs. Good night
i couldnt get half way through. what a dull boring report...

can you imagine having to listen to this verbatim during your dinner. omg.
Hopefully the few that got their hands on the JackAzz, were able to Kick the Crap out of him! It is time to take the gloves off with these Terrorists! Enough of this "Mr. Nice Guy BS!!" Just give me the button...:uzi:

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