Democracy Soup

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Jasper Schuringa took charge to help stop the Detroit bombing attempt to earn Wings of Justice

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Originally published on on January 13, 2010

Jasper Schuringa

Whether there be full-body scanners, bomb-sniffing dogs, or airline passengers traveling naked, there may never be enough to keep us totally safe from terrorism.

But one mitigating factor that is often overlooked in helping prevent terrorism attacks from happening is simple human involvement. Such human involvement occurred in the bombing attempt on the Amsterdam-Detroit flight on Christmas Day.

The primary instigator of that human involvement was Jasper Schuringa of Amsterdam.

During the flight, Schuringa heard a pop. “When you hear a pop on a plane, you’re awake,” Schuringa said.

Schuringa said he jumped over seats and crossed the aisle. When Schuringa reached the alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, he pulled a syringe from the terror suspect that was stuck inside the pants.

With the syringe activating the process, instead of an explosion, there was a fire. Schuringa began extinguishing the fire with his hands.

“I was really afraid the guy, the suspect, had more explosives on his body. I thought if this guy gets more fire, we might blow up,” Schuringa said. “So I grabbed him and I pulled him out of the seat. I had him in a headlock.”

Schuringa suffered minor burns on his hands and wrist in the process.

But despite his courage, the memory of what Schuringa did has faded as the right-wing partisan attacks have made more of an impact on the nation’s impression of what happened on Christmas Day. Maybe the quick reference Jon Stewart made this week about the hero from the bombing attempt being Dutch, and not identifying him by name, makes an unintended point.

We know who Chesley Sullenberger is; his role in bringing down a plane safely in the Hudson River brought him worldwide attention, and even got him a job as 2010 Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade.

But Schuringa didn’t get that kind of attention for his rather heroic brave effort.

There certainly were many people involved who worked with Schuringa to deal with this potentially life-threatening situation. But leadership goes a long way in these kind of circumstances, and Schuringa proved his bravery on multiple levels.

Terrorism on an individual flight is still an extremely slight possibility. And perhaps the scenario produces bravery within ourselves that we didn’t know we had. But bravery in motion in such a troubling set of circumstances still deserves its own reward. For Jasper Schuringa’s efforts on that infamous flight, we award him this week’s Wings of Justice.


Written by democracysoup

January 13, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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