Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, has been indicted on six charges. ((U.S. Marshal's Service/Associated Press))

A U.S. grand jury has indicted a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day.

The six charges against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab include attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder.

The indictment was filed in Detroit on Wednesday.

Authorities say the 23-year-old Abdulmutallab was travelling to Detroit from Amsterdam when he tried to ignite an explosive device aboard the airliner. Fellow passengers pounced on him before he could detonate the device.

Abdulmutallab is being held at a federal prison in Milan, Mich. He is expected in appear in court on Friday.

The brush with disaster on the Northwest flight has provoked debate over the effectivess of U.S. security provisions and questions about how anyone could get on a plane with explosives, especially a man already brought to the attention of U.S. officials.

The New York Times reported in late December that the government had information from Yemen before Christmas that a branch of al-Qaeda was preparing "a Nigerian" for a terrorist attack. The information did not include Abdulmutallab's name, the Times said.

Father warned U.S. Embassy officials

Abdulmutallab's name had, in fact, been put into an expansive database of suspect individuals. But he was never added to the more restrictive lists that would have caught the attention of U.S. security officials, even though his father warned U.S. Embassy officials in Nigeria about his son in November.

"Had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled with other intelligence, and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged," U.S. President Barack Obama said Dec. 29. "The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America."

A U.S. intelligence official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said that Abdulmutallab's father didn't provide sufficient information to earn him a spot on the no-fly list.

"Abdulmutallab's father didn't say his son was a terrorist, let alone planning an attack," the official said.

"I'm not aware of some magic piece of intelligence that suddenly would have flagged this guy — whose name nobody even had until November — as a killer en route to America, let alone something that anybody withheld."

With files from The Associated Press