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Silver Spring Man Alerted Attendants During Airline Attack

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By Patrick Madden

A Silver Spring real estate consultant says he heard a "loud explosion" during a Christmas Day Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit and was the first to alert flight attendants.

Alain Ghonda, who was returning home from a business trip to Ghana, says he just did what he had to do. He was sitting one row ahead of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the passenger who authorities say concealed explosives in his underwear and tried to ignite them as the plane came in for a landing. Even though the seat belt sign was on in preparation for landing, Ghonda says he stood to let another passenger return to her seat. That's when he said he heard a "loud explosion" and spotted smoke.

Ghonda says he alerted flight attendants and they, along with two Dutch passengers, subdued Abdulmutallab.

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