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Air Terror

POSTED: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - 1:26pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:25pm

New information sheds light on how close Northwestern Flight 253 came to being a Christmas Day disaster...

Based on new information from federal investigators, it's now clear how close Northwest Flight 253 came to being a disaster.

As airports around the world change up their security, and critics demand new methods for thwarting terrorists, President Obama interrupted his Hawaii vacation to promise action, "the American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season."

NBC News is also learning more about the explosive device worn by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his Christmas day attempt to bring down Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit.

It carried the same explosive used in 2001 by shoe bomber Richard Reid. Both could have brought down an airliner and neither can be detected by the machines at most airports.

The explosive could have been picked up by full body scanners, but there are not as many of those because of the high costs and privacy concerns, "it makes more sense to identify the handful of actual terrorists out there before they make it to airports, before they reach airplanes, when they're still in their countries of origin," says terror analyst Evan Kohlman

Meanwhile, U.S. airlines are loosening the rules that went up after the Christmas day incident.

Airlines are now allowed to turn their entertainment systems back on, and give passengers a little more movement at the flight crew's discretion.

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