A Nigerian who has been detained in Detroit after trying to ignite an explosive device on a U.S. passenger plane is the son of a prominent former banker, a family member told Reuters on Saturday.

The 23-year-old man, believed to be linked to al Qaeda militants, is in custody in the United States after being overpowered by passengers and crew as the Christmas Day flight approached Detroit from Amsterdam.

It is my brother, Abdul Mutallab, son of Umaru Mutallab, a prominent banker from the northern state of Katsina, told Reuters by telephone.

Nigeria's This Day newspaper cited family members as saying Umaru Mutallab had been uncomfortable with his son's extreme religious views and had reported him to the U.S. Embassy in the capital Abuja and to Nigerian security agencies six months ago.

The This Day report said Umaru Mutallab would meet Nigerian security agencies on Saturday.

He is in a meeting right now but I don't think he is meeting with the police yet, Abdul Mutallab told Reuters, but declined to comment further.

U.S. officials named the suspect in detention as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, according to U.S. newspaper reports.

British police were searching premises in a wealthy central London district on Saturday in connection with the incident.

The man was believed to have spent time in Britain as a student and authorities were trying to establish details about his activities in the country, a British counter-terrorism source said.

University College London (UCL) said a student by the name of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was enrolled on a mechanical engineering course between September 2005 and June 2008 but said it had no evidence this individual was the same man.

The This Day report said the suspect had attended the British International School in Togo, where he had been nick-named Alfa -- a local term for an Islamic scholar -- before going to London to study.

Citing family sources, the newspaper said he had relocated to Egypt and then Dubai, where he cut family ties, after leaving London.