Terror link to Yemen raises fears as Christmas Day plot foiled
Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national with admitted links to al Qaeda, was subdued and apprehended after trying to detonate an explosive device strapped to his leg aboard an international flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The explosive device, reported to be a mix of powder and liquid, failed to explode but did ignite, in what reports were initially describing as fireworks aboard the plane. The suspect was left with severe burns on his upper leg after passengers overpowered him; two passengers also sustained minor injuries during the altercation.
Mutallab, a 23-year-old engineering student at University College in London, is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker who apparently reported his son's religious extremist views to the US authorities months ago.
The father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a former minister and the Chairman of Nigeria's First Bank, is meeting with security officials to discuss his son's case. Alhaji told Nigerian news that he is shocked that his son was even allowed to fly to the US. Given the fact that Alhaji was shocked that Abdul could have potentially entered the US, perhaps the elder Mutallab was none too surprised to hear that his son, known for his extremist views since high school, had tried to detonate a bomb on a flight with nearly 300 innocent Americans aboard. When asked where his son had traveled, Alhaji said Abdul had left London and that "he may have traveled to Yemen, but we are investigating to determine that."
Given the uptick in extremist and terrorist activities in Yemen, Abdul's father won't be the only one investigating whether the self-proclaimed al Qaeda operative had traveled to Yemen. This incident must be extremely alarming to US authorities, coming on the heels of a coordinated air strike and ground assault by US and Yemeni forces on a high-level meeting of al Qaeda operatives and leaders just days ago. From Bill Roggio:
The US has stepped up the pressure on the Yemeni government to act against al Qaeda after intelligence has indicated that the terror group is plotting strikes against the West from terror camps in Abyan, Shabwa, Sana'a, and other locations in the country. Fears that Yemen will become the next staging ground for al Qaeda's external operations branch rose today after a plot to blow up a plane over the US was foiled by passengers while the attack was in progress.
A Nigerian man identified as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight as it traveled from Amsterdam to Detroit. Passengers subdued Abdulmutallab after he mixed a powder, which he said was taped to his leg, and a liquid, and then attempted to ignite it.
Abdulmutallab told investigators he was a member of al Qaeda and received the explosive device and training in Yemen, according to ABC News.
"The subject is claiming to have extremist affiliation and that the device was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used," a federal situational awareness bulletin stated.
US officials are now saying that the suspect's name has been on investigators' radars for nearly two years as having possible links to terror. On Saturday, London Metropolitan Police, with the assistance of US officials, are carrying out searches at multiple addresses in central London and looking for those who may have a connection to Friday's foiled bombing attempt.