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Echoes of 2001 shoe bomber in Detroit attack

In both cases, passengers and crew subdued the alleged bomber before the explosive material could fully ignite. In the Detroit attack, passengers heard popping noises and saw suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's pants on fire when they intervened, according to court documents.

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If nothing else, the alleged Christmas Day bomber was truthful when asked a direct question.

Shortly after passengers and crew subdued him and extinguished flames climbing the wall of Flight 253, a flight attendant asked Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab what he had in his pocket.

“Explosive device,” he told her, according to court documents filed in the case.

The details are contained in a six-page account of the dramatic mid-air confrontation on Christmas Day.

Mr. Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, was arrested and charged with attempting to set off a bomb aboard a commercial jetliner. The explosive material was apparently concealed in his underpants.

The incident has raised questions about how he could elude elaborate US and international security checks. It also sets the stage for a terrorism trial in US District Court in Detroit.

On Monday, federal prosecutors canceled a scheduled court hearing in the emerging case against Abdulmutallab. Prosecutors were seeking a court order to obtain DNA material from him. No explanation for the request or the delay was given.

Abdulmutallab is next scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 8 for a bond hearing. He is not expected to be released on bond pending his trial given the severity of the charges against him, but the hearing may provide new details about his alleged crime, particularly how the young Nigerian obtained his make-shift bomb.

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