Another Ghanaian On Bomber Plane Speaks

Desmond Nartey narrating his near-death experience to the mediaIt is now established that the North-West Flight 253, which miraculously survived an Al-Qaeda-

sponsored bomb attempt exactly one month ago, had three Ghanaians aboard.

Three days after Theophilus Maranga broke his silence on his experience, DAILY GUIDE has caught up with another passenger, Desmond Nartey, who described the survival of all passengers as the intervention of an invisible divine hand.

Speaking to the media on his arrival at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on Friday, he said one of his greatest worries was that the suspected terrorist turned out to be black, and for that matter an African.

He said the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdul-Mutallab, did not catch his attention during the pre-boarding process, insisting there was supernatural intervention that fateful day.

“I was billed to occupy seat number 17G, which was much closer to the Nigerian bomber who was occupying seat number 19A, but a young Indian girl pleaded with me that she wanted my seat because she was travelling with her father and would love to sit close to her dad. I then moved to seat 23B,” he said.

The 51-year-old Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CDH Securities Limited, who was on a vacation trip to Philadelphia, left the KIA on December 24, aboard a KLM flight to Amsterdam.

As is usually the case of KLM at Schippol Airport, all its passengers to US were connected to its sky team, one of which was the North West airliner, now owned by Delta Airline, to Detroit.

“The flight was uneventful until barely an hour to landing when we heard a pop, like the blast of a balloon, and then smoke which was soon followed by a flame.

The next 30 minutes was the longest period in my life as we were still 30,000 ft above sea level. It was a mixture of fear, anxiety and shock. I can’t describe my feeling in a single word”.

According to Nartey, it took some physical effort to pin down the suspect, but added that the greater part of the psychological trauma came when the plane landed successfully at a secluded place within Detroit Airport.

He said the first two hours was a screening exercise with the Transportation Security Agencies (TSA), followed by another four long hours of one-on-one grilling by the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI).

“The next two weeks was hell for me. The more I watched the developments of that day on television, the more I was gripped with fear. For a moment, I was flight-phobic. Honestly, on my next journey to Philadelphia, I would have walked, if I could”.

Asked of his opinion on Ghana’s intention to start using body scan at its entry points, Desmond said he is in full support of the idea.

“Between privacy and security, I think I will go for security. I could have died in that incident. If you ask why I am alive today, all I can say is that maybe God knows my work on earth is not done yet,” he said.

It can be recalled that a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, on Christmas Day attempted to bomb a North West airliner in American airspace but failed in his bid.

He told federal agents shortly after his arrest that he had been trained and given the explosives by an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, and is currently facing trial in the US.

In a related development, Osama bin Laden, US most-wanted terrorist, claimed responsibility for the attempt to bomb the airliner on Christmas Day, threatening more attacks on the United States.

In the minute-long recording carried by Al-Jazeera Arabic news channel yesterday, bin Laden addressed President Barack Obama, saying the Christmas attack was meant to send a message similar to that of the September 11 attacks.

“The message delivered to you through the plane of the heroic warrior, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, was a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes of the September 11.America will never dream of security unless we will have it in reality in Palestine. God-willing, our raids on you will continue as long as your support for the Israelis continues,” he said in the tape.

The third and final Ghanaian passenger of the Christmas Day bomber plane, one Dan who is a student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), will arrive in the country on 14th February, 2010.