Sunday, December 27, 2009

Alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, trained with al-Qa'ida

Detroit bomb threat

Police leave the London flat that was home to Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Source: AFP

A Nigerian man who allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane has confessed to training with an al-Qa'ida bombmaker in Yemen, security officials say.

The allegations highlight Yemen's growing centrality in global terror plots, as the country's government carries out an offensive against al-Qa'ida suspects, that has reportedly killed 68 alleged militants in the past 10 days.

New details emerging about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab suggested his abortive attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was planned in Yemen by Al-Qa'ida members, who even sewed an explosive device into the 23-year-old's underwear.

That official said Abdulmutallab, an engineering student, had told his family in London last August that he wanted to go to Yemen to study. He reportedly had been in that country until earlier this month.

An intelligence official said Abdulmutallab admitted he was trained while in Yemen to make explosives that could escape detection - and that militants had given him the materials for the attempted attack.

In October, al-Qaida's network in Yemen released the 11th edition of its official magazine. In it, top commander Abu Basir al-Wahishi advised supporters to use all available weapons at their disposal to kill Westerners who were "apostates," or unbelievers. Two suggested venues: "In airports in the western crusade countries that participated in the war against Muslims; or on their planes."

Law enforcement officials said Abdulmutallab had offered several details about his links to al-Qa'ida and his plan to take down the flight from Amsterdam.

Abdulmutallab told investigators that a radical Yemeni cleric he contacted via the internet put him in touch with an al-Qa'ida leader living in Yemen.

He described spending a month at an al-Qa'ida compound north of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, and said he was denied permission to leave the site until he completed his training alongside a Saudi al-Qa'ida bomb maker.

US counter-terrorism officials said the Nigerian claimed he received specific instructions about how to carry out the attack.

He claimed he was told to blow up the plane as it approached Detroit because it would produce more casualties.

The US Justice Department alleged in charging documents that he went to the bathroom before the plane began its final descent, spending 20 minutes away from his seat before returning and saying he had an upset stomach.

"He pulled a blanket over himself. Passengers then heard popping noises similar to firecrackers, smelled an odour and observed Abdulmutallab's pants leg and the wall of the aeroplane on fire," the affidavit said.

"One flight attendant . . . stated that she asked Abdulmutallab what he had had in his pocket and he replied `explosive device'."

Remnants of the syringe had been recovered and were believed to be part of the explosive device, the document said. The affidavit described the device as containing PETN, also known as pentaerythritol tetranitrate, "a high explosive" similar to nitro-glycerin.

The two apparent components of the device, the syringe and the explosive material were sewn into Abdulmutallab's underwear by al-Qa'ida operatives in Yemen.


Digg Google Bookmarks reddit Mixx StumbleUpon Technorati Yahoo! Buzz DesignFloat Delicious BlinkList Furl

0 comments: on "Alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, trained with al-Qa'ida"