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Soundbite: Abdulmutallab’s Materials “More Incendiary Than Explosive”

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“We’re trying to ascertain exactly what he had and what he thought he was doing, but our sense is he wanted to wreak some havoc here and was attempting to do just that. Whether at the end of the day he had the ability to do that is what I think we’ll be able to pull together over the next several days as we investigate this.”

A senior Department of Homeland Security official said that the materials Mr. Abdulmutallab had on him were “more incendiary than explosive,” and that he had tried to ignite them to cause a fire as the airliner was approaching Detroit.

The New York Times is reporting the government reactions to yesterday’s attempted terrorist attack, clarifying that although the device used by Abdulmutallab is being referred to mostly as an “explosive,” he might have actually been attempting to start a fire.

This might explain the burns on his legs, described by passengers. It may also come into play as more information reveals itself about how exactly the suspect was able to smuggle the device onto the plane.

(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

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