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Attempted Terrorist Attack Sparks New Fears of al-Qaida

Airports around the world are tightening security for flights to the United States after a Nigerian man claiming links to al-Qaida tried to explode a bomb on a flight from Amsterdam to the U.S. city of Detroit.

Passengers on the Christmas Day flight say they heard a loud pop and saw smoke when 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab unsuccessfully tried to detonate the explosive before the plane began its descent. He was immediately restrained by other passengers and crew.

U.S. authorities have asked airlines to take additional security precautions for all flights to the U.S. Nigeria has also ordered an investigation into the incident.

Reports say Mutallab taped powder to his legs to mix with a liquid-filled syringe. U.S. Congressman Peter King, a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee, said officials have not seen that type of device before.

He said Mutallab had ties to al-Qaida. Pete Hoekstra, another U.S. congressman and the senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Mutallab also had connections to radical Islamists in Yemen.

A law enforcement briefing cited by ABC News says Mutallab was studying engineering at a British university and claimed to have acquired the device in Yemen.

Law enforcement officials say Mutallab suffered third-degree burns and was detained upon arrival. U.S. officials are questioning him.

Northwest Airlines Flight 253 landed safely at Detroit Metropolitan Airport carrying 278 passengers, some of whom sustained minor injuries.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said U.S. President Barack Obama has "instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel."

Burton said Mr. Obama is "actively monitoring" the situation from Hawaii where he is vacationing with his family.

Officials say Mutallab began his trip in Nigeria and that while his name appears in a U.S. intelligence database, he is reportedly not on the U.S. government's no-fly list.

Dutch officials say he arrived at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport on a connecting flight.

Airline officials originally thought Mutallab had attempted to light firecrackers.

IntelCenter, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring group that works with the U.S. government, says the possibility of additional attempts over the next day or two cannot be ruled out.