Tag: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (page 2)

Yemen: Abdulmutallab Got Explosives at Nigeria Airport

A senior Yemeni official today in explaining Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's movements, says he got the explosive device during his layover in Lagos, Nigeria when changing planes, not in Yemen. His layover, they have previously said, was 35 minutes.

But the official, Rashad al-Alimi, the deputy prime minister for national security and defense, cited Yemeni investigations and said that the Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, had acquired the explosives used in the failed attack not in Yemen, which he left on Dec. 4, but in Nigeria, where he changed planes at the Lagos airport on Dec. 24, boarding a flight to Amsterdam and then Detroit.

There are some inconsistencies. And where was he between December 4 and December 24? Ghana says he arrived there on December 9, from Ethiopia. They believe he had a 4 hour lay-over in Nigeria. (This can't be too hard to check.)

And more speculation on the role of cleric al Awlaki.

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Report on Detroit Plane Intel Failures , Obama To Discuss

The White House is releasing a declassified version of the security review of the alleged attempted terror attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day.

President Obama will speak at 4:30 pm, ET. You can watch him live at the White House website here.

Following the report, Obama is expected to unveil new steps aimed at avoiding further attacks. The BBC also reports that Yemen's Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi said today that Abdulmutallab met with cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Shabwa, the Yemeni province where he lives and that Abdulmutallab was recruited while a student at the University College London (UCL). The Guardian is reporting Yemen may arrest al Awlaki.

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Abdulmutallab Indicted in Michigan

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23 year old Nigerian failed "underpants bomber," has been indicted in Michigan.

The six count Indictment, returned today, is here.

The charges include attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder, attempt to destroy an aircraft, willfully placing a destructive device on an airplane, possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, and carryng/using a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.

The first count carries a possible penalty of life in prison.

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U.S. and U.K. Close Yemen Embassies

The U.S. and U.K. closed their embassies in Yemen due to threats by al Qaida Arabian Peninsula (AQAP.)

The embassy statement is here.

Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan told ABC's This Morning:

“I spoke with our ambassador in Sana, Steve Seche, early this morning and last night, looked at the intelligence that is available as far as the plans for al Qaeda to carry out attacks in Sana, possibly against our embassy, possibly against U.S. personnel,” Mr. Brennan said. “We decided it was the prudent thing to do to shut the embassy.”


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Changing Theories on the AQAP Failed IED Attack on Saudi Prince

Experts are now questioning prior accounts of the August 28, 2009 failed IED assassination attempt by a suicide bomber on Saudi prince Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

AQAP quickly claimed control of the attack. It was believed that the suicide bomber, Abdullah Hassan Taleh al-Asiri, had hidden the bomb in his anal cavity, and that it was activated by remote control cell phone signals. Here's a pretty good Stratford account.

The video above, which shows a happy al-Asiri describing the attempt ahead of time, also contains the cell phone call that occurred during al-Asiri's meeting with the prince 14 seconds before the bomb went off (killing only al-Asiri), and explains the then widely-accepted version of how it went down. [More...]

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Obama Directly Blames AQAP in Yemen For Detroit Attack

Even though Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula, an off-shoot of the central al Qaeda took responsibility last week for the failed Detroit plane attack of Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, today was the first time that President Obama directly accused the group. In his radio address, he said:

"We know that [Mr Abdulmutallab] travelled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies," said Mr Obama, who is on holiday in Hawaii.

"It appears that he joined an affiliate of al-Qaeda, and that this group, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America."

Obama also discussed the U.S. planned response: [More...]

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Abdulmutallab : Keeping Focus As The Story Changes

There's so much anonymous source material being touted in news articles, it's difficult to ascertain who's got the details right.

ABC News now has a different version of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's father's reasons for contacting authorities regarding his son. Now, it's an alarming last phone call he made to his father.

ABC News' sources said that during Abdulmutallab's final call, he told his father the call would be his last contact with the family. He said that the people he was with in Yemen were about to destroy his SIM card, rendering his phone unusable.

And, the father went to Nigerian intelligence authorities who promptly took him to the CIA. [More...]

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Al Awlaki Confirms He's Alive, New Connections to Abdulmutallab

The question seems to be, has American born Muslim cleric Al Awlaki gone from inspirational to operational?

ABC News reports he confirmed by phone to a reporter today that he is alive and the Yemeni strike last week missed him and his house. The WSJ has more on Al Awlaki who is emerging as a key figure in the investigation.

The Washington Post reports Rashad Mohammed al-Alimi, Yemen's deputy prime minister for defense and security affairs, also says Al Awlaki is alive and that he may have met with Abdulmutallab at a house in Shabwa in Southern Yemen. The school he attended in August and September may have been a cover.[More...]

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The National Counterterrorism Center May Have Dropped The Ball

The New York Times, in reporting on the security failures responsible for failing to detect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his failed bomb attempt, focuses on the National Counterterrorism Center -- and discloses there was electronic surveillance:

That's the agency that supposed to act as a fusion center, connecting dots in information received from various agencies, so that the failures in intelligence gathering associated with 911 don't happen again.

The remedy, proposed by the Sept. 11 commission and passed by Congress in 2004, was to place a single director of intelligence over the nation’s 16 spy agencies. At the core would be the National Counterterrorism Center.

...Intelligence analysts from one agency now routinely serve for a time in another agency, to develop personal ties. Databases of suspected terrorists are far more complete and accessible. The ban on hoarding data is strictly enforced.

So what's the problem? Maybe we're wiretapping so much and accumulating so much information, much of which is useless, it's not possible to accommodate it all and isolate the information that matters. [More...]

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Houston Islamic School Confirms Abdulmutallab Attended Classes

The Al-Maghrib Institute in Houston, an Islamic learning center, confirmed today that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attended classes there in August, 2008. Authorities earlier disclosed Abdulmutallab's visa showed he was in Houston from August 1, 2008 to August 16, 2008.

The international institute is a nonprofit that teaches Islamic studies. It has a student body totaling more than 20,000, Basyouni said, and conducts seminars in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

It's not a radical school and its Vice President says the subjects he lectures on include "reclaiming Islam from jihadists, focusing specifically on the issue of preventing terrorism."

Abdulmutallab supposedly wanted to study Sharia law. Houston has a Sharia Law Center, but this isn't it. The FBI has already visited the hotel he is believed to have stayed at, the Sheraton Houston Brookhollow Hotel.

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Abdulmutallab's Travel Route

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab' travel route:

Mr Abdulmutallab's route began in Yemen, from where he travelled to Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria. On 24 December, he flew from Lagos to Amsterdam, where he boarded the flight to Detroit.

He bought the ticket to Detroit on Dec. 16 in Ghana. So how could the plot have been retaliation for U.S. participation in Yemen's Dec 17 and 23 attacks on al Qaida as the group claims? They hadn't happened yet. Here's a link to the released statement in Arabic, with photos of Abdulmutallab and an airliner.

His roommate told the Yemen paper Abdulmutallab was in Yemen from July to October. The Yemen Government says he was there from early August to early December.

Did he train in Ethiopia or Ghana? Did he just stop in Nigeria to get the underwear? Where was the device actually made? Lots of questions still.

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Old News: Gitmo Detainee Released in 2007 Involved in Al Qaida in Yemen

It's been known for a long time that Said Ali al Shihri, believed to be al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) second-in-command was released from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in November 2007. Same for the second Guantanamo detainee Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, whose name is now Abu-al-Harith Muhammad al-Awfi. In other words, this ABC news story is not news.

Both were featured in the January, 2009 video announcing the formation of AQAP contained in Sada al-Malahim, (Arabic for “The Echo of Battle”), the group's online magazine. In January, 2009, the Stratford Group, had this long article on AQAP, the two released Gitmo detainees and why the Saudi's "rehabilitation" efforts to deprogram and reprogram them may have failed. [More...]

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Al Qaida AP Claims Connection to Detroit Failed Bomb Attack

Update: Here's a Nov. 2009 report on AQAP and Yemen.

Al Qaida-Arabian Peninsula (a merged group of Saudi and Yemeni al-Qaida cells I described here) has released a statement claiming the explosive device carried by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was manufactured by its members. It says the act was in retaliation for a U.S. operation against the group in Yemen.

Via Al-Jazeera: the group says "a technical fault prevented it from successfully detonating."

The U.S. assisted Yemen in carrying out two airstrikes against AQ-AP members this month, one on Dec. 23 and the other on Dec. 17. It's still not known who was killed in those attacks, but it is believed the group's top leaders were either not there or survived.

Abdulmutallab snuck into Nigeria the day before boarding the Detroit flight in Amsterdam. It's not clear when he last was in Yemen, although his roomate has told a Yemeni paper he arrived in July and left in October. [More...]

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Arab Media Not Too Interested in al-Qaida's Yemen Ties

Foreign policy expert Marc Lynch points out the Christmas Day bomb attempt by Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab is barely causing a stir in the Arab media.

Whether it's AQ or not, nobody in Arab media cares

I don't know what kind of contacts the failed airplane bomber did or didn't have with Al-Qaeda Central or Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and neither does anybody else who has commented since it happened. The extent of such contacts will be mildly interesting, but it surprises nobody working on CT issues that there are still people swimming in the AQ milieu who want to hit the United States, whether on their own or with support from some AQ affiliates. One of the real stories here, which has gone largely unremarked in the coverage I've seen, is that the Arab media generally couldn't care less.


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Terrorism Charges Filed in Detroit Airplane Incident

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23 year old Nigerian who was apprehended after a foiled attempt to allegedly detonate an explosive device on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, has been charged via complaint in the Eastern District of Michigan with willful attempt to destroy an aircraft and willfully placing and causing to be placed a destructive device on an aircraft. Both carry up to 20 years in prison. The DOJ manual explains the offenses here. The statute is here. Abdulmutallab is charged under sections (a)(1), (a)(2) and (a)(8).

[P]assengers told authorities that Abdulmutallab went into a bathroom on the plane for about 20 minutes. When he returned, he said he had a stomach ache and covered himself with a blanket. Moments later, passengers heard a pop, smelled smoke and the ensuing fire.

A preliminary FBI analysis found that the device contained the high explosive pentaerythritol, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint. The FBI also found what look like remnants of a syringe believed to have been part of the device.

The complaint is here (pdf.) The Government alleges that PETN is a destructive device under 18 USC 921 (a)(4). A passenger took a smoking syringe from Abdulmutallab, shook it to make it stop smoking and threw it on the floor of the aircraft. (Interesting that the passenger knew to do that. Sounds risky and dangerous to me.) [More...]

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