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Nigerian bomb suspect was in Yemen

By Lawani Mikairu, with agency report

Yemeni authority said, yesterday, that the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a US-bound passenger jet was living there  until a few weeks ago, while President Obama of United States of America has ordered full investigation into the incident.

Also yesterday, the first photos emerged of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab explosive-laden underpants.

Abdulmutallab, who allegedly tried to use a syringe to set off a high explosive called pentaery-thritol tetranitrate, PETN, sewn into his underwear, has reportedly confessed to being trained for his mission by an Al-Qaeda bomb maker in Yemen.

A Yemeni foreign ministry spokesman said, “he stayed in Yemen between the beginning of August and the beginning of December, after having received a visa to study Arabic at an institute in Sanaa where he had previously studied.”

Yemen gave him a visa after security officials were “reassured that he had been granted visas by friendly countries, and still held a valid visa to the US, where he had visited before,” the spokesman said.

US media, meanwhile, published government photographs showing the suspect’s singed underwear, a syringe and a plastic container believed to have stored the explosive PETN. The explosive device ignited but failed to detonate.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, an affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s terror network led by Yemeni and Saudi radicals, claimed on Monday that it was behind the plot and threatened new attacks against the West.

Al-Qaeda’s “Nigerian brother”
An Internet statement, which was accompanied by a picture of suspected would-be bomber Abdulmu-tallab, boasted of the coup delivered by the “Nigerian brother” against Western airport security.

He “was able to breach all the modern and sophisticated technologies and checkpoints at the airports around the world,” US monitoring group IntelCenter said, quoting from its translation of the statement.

According to The New York Times, Abdulmutallab told FBI agents that he was connected to the Al-Qaeda affiliate by a radical Yemeni cleric whom he contacted online.

Meanwhile, students at the Institute of Languages in the capital Sanaa’s old city told AFP that Abdulmutallab studied at the school and lived in student housing. He was in Yemen between August and early December they said.

“He was normal and mixed with women and dealt with all people normally,” an American student said, asking not to be identified.

Abdulmutallab also spent several months at the University of Wollongong’s Dubai branch in 2009, Vice-Chancellor Gerard Sutton told ABC radio Tuesday. Sutton described Abdulmutallab as a “normal student”. Officials at the university’s Dubai campus refused to discuss Abdulmutallab yesterday.

The Yemeni spokesman said that security agencies are investigating “the parties with whom the accused Nigerian was in contact during his time in Yemen.” He said the results will be “sent to US agencies investigating the attempted attack, within the framework of US-Yemeni cooperation on security and fighting terrorism.”

The spokesman condem-ned the attack, and said his country, “which has suffered much from terrorism,” remains “an active partner in the international community in the war against terrorism.”

Obama orders full investigation
As US leaders spoke of Yemen as a new frontline in the war, President Barack Obama who is on vacation in Hawaii vowed to hunt down extremists wherever they plot against the United States.

Obama pledged to “disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us — whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia or anywhere they are plotting attacks against the US homeland. A full investigation has been launched into this attempted act of terrorism and we will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable,” Obama said on Monday in Hawaii.

Yemen’s confirmation that Abdulmutallab was in the country as recently as early December came as US investigators try to determine if he was working alone or really was instructed by Al-Qaeda as the terror network claims.

A controversy is also raging in the United States over a no-fly list system that allowed Abdulmutallab to fly to Detroit on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with 290 people on board, and with a valid US visa despite the fact he was on a broad terrorist watch-list.


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