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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.



READER COMMENTS: "Terror link to Yemen raises fears as Christmas Day plot foiled"

Posted by KnightHawk at December 27, 2009 5:26 AM ET:

Careful now remember we're not allowed to "jump" to any conclusions. Sad part is the late night comedians will have a good laugh at the Nigerian banker angle and defuse should be a healthy wake up call here. We simply lucked out on this one.


Posted by Karen at December 28, 2009 12:50 AM ET:

We were lucky with this one. Thank God for those
passengers that subdued him and the flight
attendents that were able to put out the fire.There was a breakdown somewhere, or the systems
are overwhelmed, which is horrible. Hope this
is all that is coming, pray God's protection.

Posted by kp at December 28, 2009 2:21 AM ET:

Some will characterize this as a "Lone Wolf" attack (like Nidal Hassan) but where does a Lone Wolf get PETN?


There is a logistics trail to be unravelled here (that may or may note lead to the Yemen). I'm suer a lot of people are working it right now.

Posted by iowg at December 28, 2009 2:06 PM ET:

TSA SNAFU (remember SNAFU stands for Situation Normal All F&%$ed Up). Airport security is not working. Increasing inspection and interrogation will online make flying more miserable. We need some folks to define the objectives, constraints, and desired outcome of Traveler screening, then think more creatively about how to secure air travelers. We need to profile people so that we can focus our security resources on the most people most likely to commit a terrorist act. This can't be profiling based on appearance, ethnic group, or national origin, alone. We should implement some type of security clearance for flyers. This would be comprehensive and result in the flyer being registered as approved for lower level of screening. It would not be required, but choosing not go get a security clearance would mean extensive interrogation and inspection every time you fly. Detecting the most likely terrorist is the only way to get ahead of this problem.

Posted by Xavier at December 28, 2009 10:45 PM ET:

There is talk of this man getting away with under 30 years. This is insane. Just by luck those hundreds of people survived. THis man had intention and will to kill hundreds on board.

US criminal justice system needs to be revamped. AN intention and will to kill hundreds should be equivalent to actually killing in legal terms. This person needs to be either hanged or locked for life.

He may be more dangerous if released after 25 odd years.