Kurt Haskell, a Detroit-area lawyer who claimed to have been on the notorious Amsterdam to Detroit flight that ended with a fizzled would-be terror attack, says that he saw a well-dressed older man he identified as Indian helping escort the young Muttalab past the boarding gate without a passport. To quote from MLive.com, a local Detroit news site (which has a picture of his boarding pass to corroborate at least the fact that he was on the plane, unless it's a photoshopped forgery):
While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. "The guy said, 'He's from Sudan and we do this all the time.'"
Mutallab is Nigerian. Haskell believes the man may have been trying to garner sympathy for Mutallab's lack of documents by portraying him as a Sudanese refugee.
The ticket agent referred Mutallab and his companion to her manager down the hall, and Haskell didn't see Mutallab again until after he allegedly tried to detonate an explosive on the plane.
Haskell's full story in his own words here. I still find the most suspicious fact of this whole incident that 257 people were flying from Amsterdam to Detroit, a city that is by most accounts deader than Mu and Atlantis combined, on Christmas day.
UPDATE: There's another part of Haskell's full in-his-own-words account that on second thought deserves quoting here for interest:
FBI also arrested a different Indian man while we were held in customs after a bomb sniffing dog detected a bomb in his carry on bag and he was searched after we landed. This was later confirmed while we were in customs when an FBI agent said to us "You are being moved to another area because this area is not safe. Read between the lines. Some of you saw what just happened."(The arrest of the other Indian man). I am not sure why this hasn't made it into any news story, but I stood about 15-20 feet away from the other Indian man when he was cuffed and arrested after his search.
I have not read all the news accounts with enough scholarly thoroughness to say whether Haskell is correct that "this hasn't made it into any news story."
UPDATE II: Detroit area FBI officially denied anyone else was taken into custody in the incident, according to an update to the MLive.com story linked at the top, despite what Haskell says he thinks he saw.
UPDATE III: Another person on the plane, writing at Huffington Post, claims to have seen the same "older dude identified by viewer as Indian being taken away by authorities" thing at Detroit baggage claim. Thanks commenter newswatcher.