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Man Appears to Have Attempted to Blow Up Airplane Over Detroit on Christmas Day; Airports Crowded as Increased Security Slows Check- In and Boarding Processes

Aired December 26, 2009 - 10:00   ET



T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING for this December 26th. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Brook Baldwin in for Betty Nguyen this Saturday. Thank you for starting your weekend with us. We hope you had a nice, long holiday.

A busy, busy news day here at CNN, global resources all around to give you the latest we have on this story, this attempted terror attack on Christmas Day on this Northwest Airline headed from Amsterdam to Detroit yesterday.

HOLMES: This is a fast-moving, developing story we have this morning. Let's show you some of the very latest we're getting. This is an exclusive picture to CNN, the first we have seen of the scene on board that Northwest Airlines flight that landed in Detroit. What you're seeing is security officials surrounding the suspect.

You see him there in the white shirt kind of leaned over a seat there, a chair in the first class cabin. His name is Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian man who is now in custody, now being held by authorities for trying to -- and they're still trying to figure out an incendiary device or explosive device, maybe just trying to spark a fire on board, or people trying to figure out was he trying to blow up this airline.

BALDWIN: Right. Again, his flight or his travels, I should say, originally began in Lagos, Nigeria. Then he hopped on this flight, this Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The FBI right now they are taking a good, close look at the remnants of that explosive device at their headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, to try to figure out what it was, how it got through. There are people in London taking a close look, trying to get some evidence out of his former home, trying to figure out any motive, a lot of questions still this morning.

HOLMES: And CNN is going to be covering this story from every angle imaginable. We have correspondents all over the place, including our Ed Henry, who is actually in Hawaii. Why? Well, he's there because the president is there. The president planned his holiday vacation around this time and this all happened. But Ed Henry is there with him.

Our Nic Robertson is in London because we've got some developments there about this is the last place people thought that this young man, this accused suspect, lived or where he once lived. He's got developments there. Richard Quest for us in Amsterdam. Jeanne Meserve is in the nation's capital.

Also we have folks in Atlanta at the airport checking out things here, also correspondents in Atlanta, also Deborah Feyerick, Kate Bolduan checking out a couple airports for us, as well.

BALDWIN: But we want to begin -- we told you it was a busy day -- we want to begin though with Deb Feyerick for us at Detroit, Detroit airport, where she has been talking to her different sources after covering different terrorism stories for years.

Deb, I know you know how this works, and we also know that this 23-year-old suspect, there's sort of an interesting twist here. He is talking. He's been very forth coming with the FBI, who have apprehended him. And he's talking a lot. Fill us in. What is he saying?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a very big deal the fact that he is being questioned by the FBI and the fact that he is, in their words, quote, "talking a lot" that according to a senior official. That will help them obviously speed things along in this investigation, retracing the people he talked to, where he went, and how he got this device on board.

Now, when he was initially taken into custody, according to an official memo, he said that he had extremist affiliations. It is not clear whether that means he had actual terrorist training with some Al Qaeda camp or whether, in fact, he's sort of a self-radicalized lone jihadi acting independently.

We do know that he apparently told officials that he received the device and instructions on how to use it in Yemen. So he may have been there along the way, then Lagos, Nigeria. That was his point of departure.

He flew to Amsterdam, which is a major European hub, actually the fifth largest airport in Europe. That's where he boarded that plane to Detroit, Michigan.

We are told that there was a secondary screening before he boarded the plane. It is not clear why authorities did not pick up the materials which he had apparently on his person.

Now, he was sitting in the 19th row of this airplane. That is relatively close to the front of the plane. He was in row 19a, sitting by a window. He chose to detonate that device just miles from this airport.

He did it apparently on his lap. That is where he received the most severe burns. Passengers heard a pop. They then saw smoke billowing. Another passenger pounced on him. Again, why he chose that seat, also under investigation. Was he told to sit in that area of the plane? Again, that all comes down to who he met, who he saw.

We do know that his apartment in London is being searched at this hour. Again, authorities both here and overseas working very aggressively to get as much information as they possibly can, most specifically how did he get that material on board not one but two planes -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Deborah Feyerick for us. As you said, the scene of the crime essentially in Detroit. Deb, thank you for that.

HOLMES: All right. And as we know, this is going to be a big, big travel weekend for a lot of folks, and a lot of folks who are traveling this weekend actually will be carrying stuff with them that maybe they weren't carrying when they took their flight home a couple days ago maybe.

You got extra stuff, extra gifts, a little heavier bags and all this. Well, you're going to have also tighter security under more scrutiny. So how is this all going to affect you? We have that answer from the Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano. She put out a statement. I'm going to read part of it.

And it says "Passengers may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights. As always, we encourage the traveling public to be observant and aware of their surroundings, and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement officials."

Essentially what she's saying there, the country is not changing to a different state of alert. That color-coded alert system, we have been at orange since 9/11 as far as our air travel goes. That's not changing. But that doesn't mean security is not changing.

Let's go to CNN's Kate Bolduan. Kate, we've been coming to you the last couple hours, and we're seeing more and more people start to gather behind you. It's getting busier. We've seen other pictures where we've seen more police officers with bomb-sniffing dogs. Set the scene for us there at that busy airport.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, T.J. Well, absolutely. You said people are going to be traveling, possibly extra baggage, extra Christmas gifts, and they're also very likely will face some extra security.

And how that is described to us when we're talking act extra security measures is it will be both seen and unseen, something that travelers may be seeing when they go to the airport, additional security personnel, more security checks, more screenings at the gates.

What is being described to us as behavioral detection specialists, people who are keenly aware and are trained to be able to spot suspicious behavior in the airport, as well as possibly some additional canine bomb-sniffing dogs, canine units throughout airports.

Some of the things we've been hearing from passengers that have been traveling here from and out of Dulles airport, we've been hearing from people traveling from India, some passengers saying they definitely had additional checks, passports.

They thought it was additional checkpoints as they were just about to head into the plane, getting their passport checked just one more time, other people saying there was added scrutiny of the liquids they were traveling with, one mother saying there was added scrutiny of the baby formula she was traveling with.

By and large, I'm hearing from passengers that this does not bother them, really especially when you look at the security situation in light of yesterday's events, they say that they don't care about an inconvenience if it means the safety of their family and their loved ones and their fellow travelers.

But really what we're learning is a lot of these security measures are really designed, T.J., to be unpredictable. It's considered a multilayered system, and that's what's really TSA and administration officials -- every airport's not going to be the same, but they said there will be stepped-up measures, so people should plan for that.

HOLMES: All right, Kate Bolduan for us. We'll be checking in with you again.

I need to turn quickly to Richard Quest, who is in Amsterdam. This is where the suspect got on the plane. He went from Lagos to Amsterdam. And Richard, we've been trying to figure out the security there, what he might have gone through. What do you have for us?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can actually put some facts to all of this. The national coordinator for counterterrorism, who has been leading the investigation here in Amsterdam, they now confirm to me that the suspect did, indeed, go through security procedures, normal security procedures.

And as they say to me, security checks were well performed. When I asked did that mean a metal detector and an x-ray machine, she said very likely yes.

But what she went on to say is there is no guarantee that if he had a bottle of liquids on his body or if he had powder in an envelope on his body that would have been picked up by the metal detector. She says there's no guarantee for that. But any question that he got on the plane over there without any security at all is simply wrong.

One other point, T.J. She said the airline sent to API, the advanced passenger information list, with all the details and the name of the passengers, that was sent to the U.S. authorities, as is normal, as is procedure, and the U.S. authorities cleared the flight to leave.

HOLMES: So some new details we are getting from our Richard Quest, who's been on the story for us in Amsterdam. Richard, we appreciate you so much today checking in and gathering some of those details for us. We appreciate it.

And again, we've been trying our best to piece together exactly what he would have had to go through. We heard all our security experts say when he got on that plane in Lagos, security there is lax, and they don't even count it in some ways.

So what did he go through in Amsterdam? And now we're hearing he went through security. What kind of security still, and what kind of scrutiny, what high level of security, we don't know.

BALDWIN: It's still debatable, but I thought that was an interesting point at the end that Richard said, that yes the passenger list was sent to U.S. authorities and it was cleared.

As we heard Jeanne Meserve say in our coverage yesterday that look, this guy 23-year-old was not on any kind of no-fly list. Yes he was on a lower-level governmental list, but that didn't necessarily mean he would have to go through additional security measures.

HOLMES: So still trying to piece together exactly what happened there. Some of the most pressing terrorism questions, though, are going to be answered by top terror and security experts coming up. We'll be checking in with a lot of them this morning.

BALDWIN: Check in with them. Also check in with -- we haven't seen him in a while -- Reynolds Wolf.


BALDWIN: How are you?

WOLF: I'm doing fine. I heard a lot of people traveling today, no question. When we talk about the security issues, but the weather is also going to play a huge part for a lot of Americans trying to head home for the holidays. We'll have that coming up in just a few moments. Sit tight.


HOLMES: We have been talking an awful lot this morning about airport security in the wake of the terrorist attack on that flight landing in Detroit.

I had the chance to talk with three security experts, CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, international security analyst Glenn Schoen, and also our CNN contributor and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, asking them if the suspect was trying something new here to get through security that we're not used to looking for just yet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS: That could be true, T.J. I think what Glenn mentioned is, you know, that you had this type of security looking for metal devices, guns, knives, that type of material, which of course metal detectors are designed to detect metal.

If you have chemicals, powders, liquids, other items, maybe taped to his body, he's going to be able to pass through a metal detector. I'm sure TSA is asking itself since this started whether or not he would have been detected in the U.S. had he boarded a domestic United States flight.

HOLMES: Well, Peter, this is some scary stuff here. How in the world are we supposed to stop this? Can you stop it? I mean, we're already stripping down pretty good once you get to that security line. Besides getting down to our underoos, what can we do to stop this from getting on board? Can you stop it?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you know, by the law of averages, you know, somebody's going to get through with something.

HOLMES: That's scary to hear there, Peter.

BERGEN: But on the other hand, you know, we've seen a lot of cases -- we talked about them, T.J., in the last several months in this country where people, you know, have not succeed in terrorist plots because of good law enforcement -- Zazi, the Afghan American, who was allegedly plotting to blow up targets in Manhattan.

A lot of the questions that I think investigators will be looking at carefully is, was this a hydrogen peroxide-based device? We've heard reports of a powder and a liquid. I'm not an explosives expert, but certainly an Al Qaeda signature is hydrogen peroxide-based explosives.

Richard Reid, by the way, he had a TATP, which again a hydrogen peroxide, very unstable kind of explosive. So those are the kinds of things investigators will be looking at as we speak.

HOLMES: So Peter, it sounds like more so than that front line, if you will, which is going through security and trying to make sure we stop it there, we need to stop it before the guy ever gets to the airport.

BERGEN: Indeed. And obviously, you know, I think as we've discussed, T.J., Lagos, Nigeria, has had problems. You know, the level of scrutiny there is just not going to compare to what it would be in this country. So the idea this guy could get it through in the United States, I'm much more skeptical about it.

By the way, one thing, he wasn't on a no-fly list, but he was on a watch list. And you can be on watch lists without being on a no-fly list. In the United States, if somebody is on a watch list, they would at least be put into secondary. That appears not to have happened with this guy. HOLMES: Glenn, try to help us here. What would have happened in Lagos? We're so used to in this country what it means when we say security screening at airports -- taking off your shoes, your belt, your jacket, liquids going through in three-ounce bottles.

What would security have looked like in Lagos when he first got on that plane? What kind of scrutiny? Peter was kind of hitting on it there, but it doesn't sound like he would have gone through too much.

GLENN SCHOEN, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Peter and Tom are both right. If you look at the bigger context here -- think of the airport in Lagos as a place where we already have other big security issues. We know there's a lot of drug smuggling. We know there's a lot of corruption in the country. And unfortunately, of course, most good people there are trying to do their best to overcome these problems.

But you're dealing with a place that does not have the level of technological advancement that you might see in some other countries when it comes to the equipment or maintaining the equipment, perhaps not enough in terms of the level of how much money can we spend for good guards, the level of training.

And they know some limitations in this sense. And obviously they're doing their best. But when you talk about what's professional-grade screening nowadays in the western world and how does that compare with some of the other locations, we're clearly seeing that one or two notches lower, and different international organizations have noted that over time about Nigeria.

HOLMES: Well, Tom, again, we have an idea of what security screening and scrutiny is here in this country. It forever changed with Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. He has changed the way we go through an airport. We all have to take our shoes off and put them in the bin now.

This incident today, given that we have seen them try this before, some terrorists try this before, is this a potential to change the game once again? I asked you this question a little earlier, but do you think we might be looking at another new wave of changes that will once again forever change how we go through security at an airport?

FUENTES: Well, that's going to be difficult to determine, you know. Short of having people go through the detectors naked, it's going to be difficult to find some chemical and liquids if they're hidden on a body under clothing and the metal detector doesn't find it. I've been through that airport in Lagos and Amsterdam many, many times.

I should add TSA has attaches throughout the world and U.S. embassies. They work with the local aviation authorities in those countries to ensure that flights bound for the United States beat the same stringent requirements as they would domestically in the United States. But in this case you have a flight going from Lagos to Amsterdam. The U.S. government would not be in a position to dictate to the Nigerians what type of security would be required for that flight. A secondary screening...

HOLMES: I'm sorry. I wanted to stop you on the part -- you said you've been through Lagos and Amsterdam it sounds like several times. You describe it for me then. How would you describe given you've been through security in this country. Compare the two. How lax is it?

FUENTES: Well, in cases when I went through Lagos, you weren't required to remove your shoes. You know, many Africans dress in -- men dress in attire that would be difficult to determine what's under their garments as they go through.

So you do go through metal detectors, but it may not raise any alarms with them if you have loose-fitting clothing and go through security to board the aircraft.

In Amsterdam, every flight that I've taken through any of the major airports in the world, once you connect and you're bound for the United States, you're going to go through a different and more intensive security, which often includes a search of every handbag that you're carrying and a more detailed search of your passport, travel documents, that type of screening.

So that would have been required in Amsterdam. It's hard for me to believe that there was not secondary screening exiting the first flight and before boarding the U.S.-bound flight.

But as I said earlier, we don't know if the same screening in the United States would have detected the materials that he got on board.

HOLMES: Peter, last thing to you. Why is -- why is Al Qaeda -- as another guest earlier said -- obsessed with blowing up airplanes, obsessed with air travel, obsessed with U.S. air travel?

And is there any chance they are going to stop going after this as their chosen and unfortunately in some cases proven method of success when it comes to terrorizing?

BERGEN: T.J., I think that they are not going to give it up. You know, commercial aviation is now the hardest target imaginable, and Al Qaeda is consistently still trying to go off commercial jets, whether it's the planes of the summer of 2006 bringing down seven American Canadian airliners, also an attempt to bring down an Israeli passenger jet in Mombasa with a surface to air missile back in 2002, maybe this plot.

And why do they do it? Well, you know, I mean look at -- it affects everybody. And if you can bring down a plane anywhere in the world, it doesn't have to be American, you change the way the global economy functions.

Aviation and tourism and international business are vital to the world's economy, and if you can change that, that's a very big deal. That's a 9/11 style event if you can bring down a plane.

HOLMES: All right. Well, Tom Fuentes, Peter Bergen ...

FUENTES: Can I answer...

HOLMES: Oh, please. Go ahead.

FUENTES: I was just going to say that Al Qaeda has changed its playbook slightly when it comes to blowing up aircraft. If you recall, Pan Am 103 was intended to explodes over the Atlantic Ocean, and of course you would have the flight just simply disappear.


FUENTES: It went off prematurely and landed on the countryside near Lockerbie, Scotland. Many of the flights, as Peter mentioned in the Bojinka plot and others, were intended for aircraft to simultaneously disappear over oceans.

But what Al Qaeda has learned and other terrorist groups have learned is that for maximum impact you would like that plane to go down on land where CNN and other international news agencies can get a camera crew there and show all the gruesome aspects of the explosion.

HOLMES: Yes. That would be a much different effect on the psyche of a lot of us if we could see pictures, if we, God forbid, had to see pictures.

But again, gentlemen, Glenn, Tom, Peter, we appreciate you this morning, great discussion. Appreciate your insights and your expertise. We'll be checking in with you guys plenty, I'm sure, about this story. Thanks so much.


HOLMES: We're going to take a quick break on this CNN SATURDAY MORNING, continuing coverage of our breaking news story, an attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner, a plane trying to land in Detroit on Christmas Day. Stay with us.




HOLMES: Welcome back to this CNN SATURDAY MORNING, a morning that we have seen a lot of developments and a breaking story we've been watching since yesterday afternoon, a suspect. You're seeing the first exclusive CNN picture of this man, this 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab.

He's a Nigerian man who authorities say was trying to ignite some kind of incendiary or explosive device aboard a plane that was coming from Amsterdam and then trying to land in Detroit. He tried to set it off a short time before landing in Detroit. He was successful in setting something off, but only injuring himself. He had some serious burns to his own body, particularly his leg where this device was. But other than that, none of the passengers were injured.

That device now being checked out by the FBI. They are trying to get as much information to airlines and also airports to tell them what to look out for since this man was able to at least get whatever this was, this device or these materials, aboard this plane. They want to make sure they get that word out to everybody else, what to look out for.

Also, you are going to see a mess at airports across the country today because already one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, a holiday weekend, a lot of people traveling, trying to get back home after traveling to visit friends and family, going to be carrying a lot of gifts, carrying a lot of extra thing, and airports are going to be under some heightened security this weekend, which could slow things down even more.

We do have our people out and about covering this fast-moving story, including in London, where there are some developments, as well, a house there being searched, an apartment, at least, where the they believe the suspect once lived.

Our Nic Robertson on the story there. But you can see, our folks are fanned out all over the place to cover this fast-moving story.

BALDWIN: In fact, we want to go now to CNN's Nic Robertson where he has been this morning, looking into this particular apartment building in what is described as a very posh section of London.

Let's go to Nic.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The police have been at that property in central London since early this morning, coming and going in forensic clothing, and we have also seen several officers leaving the building and come back in. They seem to be focusing on a basement apartment here.

But to give you some idea of the type of building this is and how much it would cost to live here, the average apartment in this building sells for somewhere in the region of $2 million to $4 million. So a very, very expensive premises for this young man to be living in.

We also learned today that the University College of London said he was a student there, that he was a mechanical engineering student while he was living in London. This is believed to be the last known address that he was living at, police saying they're also searching other premise ace cross central London today.

And the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying the security of the public is the country's and his primary concern, and that he is working closely, Britain is working closely with U.S. authorities on this issue. He said they had a conversation with the commissioner of the metropolitan police today, as well, and that seems to have resulted in part for this ongoing investigation by the police.

They're still inside this building. We don't know exactly what they're searching for, but typically in a case like this they'll be looking for any leads that can help prevent imminent attacks. That will probably be on their highest priority that they'll be looking for, also looking for any contacts that he may have had with other people, anything that may be stored in this building.

Again, it's not clear exactly why the police have been directed here by U.S. authorities. It does appear to be one place that the man had been living. However, we don't know when he was last year, how long he lived in this apartment, even if he owned the apartment or if he was just renting it.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Our coverage of this developing story is going to continue, including a White House response. The president, as we know, has been on his vacation with his family out in Hawaii. But still he's keeping a close eye on developments here.

BALDWIN: Also, we're keeping a close eye on Yemen. Back in the spotlight, thought to be linked to yesterday's incident. Why? Because this 23-year-old is talking a lot, to quote him, a lot to the FBI saying yes, he got this device in Yemen.

And we're going to be taking a closer look at to what's going on in that country and how what's going on there is dramatically affecting security in the States.


BALDWIN: All right, staying on top of this developing story, that being a 23-year-old Nigerian national now in FBI custody because he presumably attempted to blow up this plane from Amsterdam to Detroit, all of this happening on Christmas Day.

A lot of people talking about this, including the president. He is on vacation in Hawaii with his family, had to take a pause and get briefed by some of his aides on this secure phone call to figure out what in the world happened.

HOLMES: And of course no matter where he goes, he's still the president, still working. So even though he is in Hawaii, he is still working. And our senior White House correspondent working, as well, Ed Henry in Honolulu with the story.


ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke and T.J., senior officials tell the White House this was an attempted terror attack, and that's why even though he's on vacation here in Hawaii, the president has been getting secure briefings from the White House Situation Room back in Washington all the way here to Hawaii so he can stay on top of the situation.

It all started on Christmas morning around 9:00, 9:30 in the morning in Hawaii, that five hours back from the east coast where the president decided to convene a secure conference call with two of his top aide, John Brennan, his principal Homeland Security adviser, as well as Dennis McDonough, the National Security Council staff.

We're told by White House Spokesman Bill Burton on that call the president ordered officials to do everything they can do increase aviation security all around the country. Officials say that could mean more canine dogs at security checkpoints. It could mean officials taking a closer look at behavior, looking for people who may be acting suspiciously.

Obviously all this could cause more delays at airports during what has already been a very frustrating holiday travel season. But administration officials say that security is paramount, obviously, in this situation.

The White House very sensitive, also, to making sure the president is on top of this situation even while he's on vacation. He's obviously been talking a lot about the economy, health care in recent weeks and months, but the president himself has said publicly and his aides repeat privately that protecting the American people is always his first priority -- Brooke, T.J.?


HOLMES: All right, thanks to our Ed Henry for filing that report.

What you're looking at here is the seat map essentially for this Northwest flight. Seat 19a is where this 23-year-old suspect, again, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, that's where he was sitting.

Now, 19a -- some say is significant that he might have chosen a spot that was close to the wall, not an aisle seat but a window seat to be closer possibly to the wall of the plane, possibly to the wing of the plane to do some damage with his device. That's what some security analysts at least are saying and speculating.

But that is where he was sitting aboard this flight. What's left of the device he was using is being examined at the FBI's explosives labs in Quantico, Virginia, and that is going to be a key part of this investigation trying to figure out exactly what he had to possibly look for it later to make sure nobody else gets aboard a plane with that.

We're also hearing from some of the passengers aboard that Northwest flight, that very flight. Take a listen.


ILANA SCHILKE, NORTHWEST PASSENGER: We heard a loud pop and a bit of smoke and then some flames, then yelling and screaming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lady shouted, "What are you doing? What are you doing?" And then we looked back, and there was some fumes and some flames.

ZEENA SAIGAL, NORTHWEST PASSENGER: Fire, people bringing water, and steward hostess brought fire extinguisher and they put out the fire. And then one guy put a lock on his head and dragged him to the front, his pants down. I heard the pants were on fire. I thought they pulled it down so he cannot run.

MELINDA DENNIS, NORTHWEST PASSENGER: He didn't say anything. He was injured. He was burned quite severely on his legs. They were very careful in trying to make sure he had nothing else on him but it was easy to see from the exposure he'd gotten significantly burned.

He was very calm. He didn't show any reaction to pain or to any feeling of shock or nervousness, you know. He just looked like a normal individual.


BALDWIN: All right, we'll continue talking about that story the rest of the morning.

Also taking a look at some of the other stories, including the arrest of someone you're used to seeing in pictures, not exactly the kind of pictures you're about to see. Charlie Sheen arrested.

HOLMES: Also this morning, airports increasing their security. Day in, day out, you're always trying to figure out how you can get through that line a little faster. But it will be important to hear the tips we have coming up in just a second, more important than ever if you care how maybe to get through security a little quicker.

It's 41 minutes past the hour on the CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


HOLMES: We want to check out some of our top stories here this morning.

A picture you're seeing here on your screen, this is an exclusive CNN photo of the suspect in this airline incident. This was taken by another passenger aboard that Northwest flight 253.

U.S. officials now saying that that suspect was a Nigerian man igniting a small explosive device just before the plane landed in Detroit from Amsterdam yesterday, yes, on Christmas Day. Another passenger helped the cabin crew subdue that man. He is now in custody at a Michigan hospital. He is being treated for his burns.

BALDWIN: It was exactly five years ago today that that deadly tsunami rose in the Indian Ocean and it killed just about 250,000 people from 14 countries. One of the areas hardest hit Bandache in Indonesias. A ceremony there marked the anniversary today with several memorials happening really across Asia.

The tsunami was the deadliest in recorded history and caused just about $10 billion in damage.

HOLMES: We will show you another picture here, another picture. You recognize that guy? Well, a lot of you will because he's one of the most popular TV actors out there right now. And his people are downplaying his arrest in Colorado because he was taken into custody yesterday on charges related to domestic violence.

He's out for now, posted bail. We don't know exactly who his accuser is, and of course you know who he is. That's Charlie Sheen. His spokesman is cautioning against anybody jumping to conclusions just yet.

We're right back after a quick break.


HOLMES: The remains of that device used in that attempted terrorist attack aboard a Northwest plane now being examined by the FBI. The suspect told investigators it came from Yemen.

BALDWIN: So we're talking about Yemen this morning, as well. CNN International Correspondent Mohammed Junis has spent some time there. Mohammed joins us not from the international desk.

And Mohammed, we know that this suspect is a 23-year-old who said to the FBI, yes, I got this advice in Yemen, and we know that country already facing its own concerns, security, terror. If, in fact, he's telling the truth that this device came from there, is there anything the U.S. can do to help Yemen combat its security problem?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I've spoken to so many Yemen experts in the past few week, Brooke, who tell me that there's nothing more that the U.S. can do than what they're already doing in order to make the situation any better.

The U.S. is spending a lot of money to try and help Yemen fight Al Qaeda. The government has been asking for that money. And there are a lot of reports the U.S. is helping with airpower, maybe even sending in drones. That has not been confirmed to this point.

The Yemenis are insisting they're taking care of this problem. But there's a huge Al Qaeda problem in Yemen, they're resurgent. You have Saudi Al Qaeda and Yemeni Al Qaeda. They have merged there, a very big organization.

Beyond that, one of the other huge security concerns in Yemen, you have a Houthi-Shiite rebellion going on in the north of the country along Saudi Arabia's border, and in the southern part of the country, you have a separatist movement.

But all accounts, the people that I spoke with, the experts on Yemen, say this is really a collapsing state. Unless they can get the situation under control, it's very dire. They're concerned that Yemen will become a hub for terror. It will attract more fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan, it will attract more militants, and they will be able to carry out more attacks against regional neighbors and the U.S.

HOLMES: Well certainly, Mohammed, as they enter world, it looks like we would like Yemen's help in trying to keep stuff like this from happening. We don't know for sure if this device came from Yemen, but from what we understand it's pretty easy to get anything in or out of that country.

But it sounds like Yemen has problems of its own, and in attacking and going after these militants. We've seen these strikes in the past couple of days and weeks. Any reason to believe right now officials there believe that this now, a possible or attempted attack here in the U.S., connected to those strikes against militants there in Yemen?

JAMJOOM: A lot of people have already suggested that, although it's not substantiated or confirmed at this point, but a lot of analysts have suggested that there is a link.

A couple of weeks ago you had a big strike against an Al Qaeda target in Yemen. The Yemeni government claims they carries it out. They killed over 36 fighters. Last week you had an attack where they killed over 30 fighter, militants they claimed were working with Al Qaeda.

Now a lot of people said this was in retaliation -- that Al Qaeda in Yemen actually retaliated against the government. They said they were going to come out and attack them. And there is this retaliatory thing going on, and it is tit for tat right now.

The Yemen government is perceived to be weak. Al Qaeda over there is perceived to be strong. They're coming out into the streets. There are Al Qaeda leaders and leaders who are coming out into the streets in different towns after these air strikes happen. They say we're here, we're resurgent, we'll continue to attack not only the Yemeni government, the Saudi government, also the American government.

So a lot of people feel that these retaliatory strikes will happen even though there is not clear link between what happened yesterday and any of the air strikes that happened last week.

BALDWIN: You said they're obviously not getting much help from their neighbors, porous borders, a lot of issues over there. Let's wait and see if in fact this 23-year-old is telling the truth, whether or not this device in fact came from Yemen.

Mohamed Jamjoom, we appreciate you picking up the phone and making some phone calls for us on that.

HOLMES: All right, and stay with us here. We are covering this still developing story. At the top of the hour we will reset this entire story for you and a whole lot more coverage from our correspondents who are literally around the world reporting on this fast-moving, developing story.

And again that picture you're looking at, a CNN exclusive photo from a passenger inside that plane, a Northwest airlines flight that landed in Detroit yesterday, in the white t-shirt you see there, being taken in by security officials, the suspect who authorities say tried to blow up a plane over Detroit. Stay with us.


BALDWIN: So as we've been sitting here talking for, what, the last five hours about this attempted terror attack yesterday on board this airline, other folks are just worried about getting out the front door, Reynolds Wolf, and hopping in their car and hoping they can drive along in the snow in some parts, right?


HOLMES: We're talking about this incident we saw in Detroit, expecting certainly to slow things down at airports across the country. Josh Levs is here to help us along, quite literally. Hello again, Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Quite literally, you're right. Hey there to you guys.

So last hour I talked to you about how to speed you through the secure process. What I'm going to talk you all through now is speeding your way through check-in, the reason being if you're going to spend more time in the security line, as you are, it helps to know the tricks to decrease your time at check-in.

We're getting a lot of stories from people needing this information, a lot of people writing us. Let's go right to this. We have some information we've actually put together for you at

First of all, it saves you a lot of time checking in at the airport if you do everything you can online, change your seat there, whatever it is. A lot of people think I'd rather deal with a real person. If you can at all feel comfortable doing it at the web site, you'll save time, including this next one, which is checking your bags online.

A lot of people don't do that, but if you do it, it will save you time at check-in. Plus there's another benefit -- some airlines will actually give you a discount on the cost of extra bags if you choose to check that in online.

Let's go to the next one here. Use the kiosks when you get to the airport instead of waiting to talk to the people. Feel comfortable using that technology.

But when you do it -- this is a great trick here, this next one -- use the right confirmation code, because here is what happens. If you booked your ticket through something like Expedia or Orbitz or one of these outside, third party websites, some people by mistake will type in the code for that instead of the actual code for your flight itself.

Look carefully at what you're holding. Find the confirmation code. You can shave five minutes off your time or more just doing that right.

And finally, put everything in one pocket or in one kind of holder so that you're not fiddling around with all your bags trying to find what it is that you're going to need, and your license in one place, your ticket in another place.

Some people actually carry a special folder that has everything with it. The people who follow these tricks tell us, you know what, they've done pretty well.

I'll also tell you really quickly -- we have a quick sound bite for you -- that coming up in the next hour, I'm going to talk to you about what's going on in terms of those security lines, how to save time there. Let's listen to what our Chad Myers told us earlier.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I would say it's twice as long as usual. I also noticed one peculiar thing, and I fly with a child all the time, and you can bring bottles on board for a baby.

But I did notice a little bit of extra scrutiny for those baby bottles and that water that moms were bringing on for their formula. And all that was being taken over to the side for a secondary screening, and that doesn't always happen that I can see.


LEVS: That was our Chad Myers talking to us from the world's busiest passenger airport right here in Atlanta.

We have got a lot more tips coming up for you in just minutes on how to save time at the airport.

Now it's the top of the hour, which means the CNN NEWSROOM continues right now.