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 thereÂ 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, â€œhe 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.â€
Yemen gave him a visa after security officials were â€œreassured that he had been granted visas by friendly countries, and still held a valid visa to the US, where he had visited before,â€ the spokesman said.
US media, meanwhile, published government photographs showing the suspectâ€™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 Ladenâ€™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-Qaedaâ€™s â€œNigerian brotherâ€
An Internet statement, which was accompanied by a picture of suspected would-be bomber Abdulmu-tallab, boasted of the coup delivered by the â€œNigerian brotherâ€ against Western airport security.
He â€œwas able to breach all the modern and sophisticated technologies and checkpoints at the airports around the world,â€ 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 Sanaaâ€™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.
â€œHe was normal and mixed with women and dealt with all people normally,â€ an American student said, asking not to be identified.
Abdulmutallab also spent several months at the University of Wollongongâ€™s Dubai branch in 2009, Vice-Chancellor Gerard Sutton told ABC radio Tuesday. Sutton described Abdulmutallab as a â€œnormal studentâ€. Officials at the universityâ€™s Dubai campus refused to discuss Abdulmutallab yesterday.
The Yemeni spokesman said that security agencies are investigating â€œthe parties with whom the accused Nigerian was in contact during his time in Yemen.â€ He said the results will be â€œsent to US agencies investigating the attempted attack, within the framework of US-Yemeni cooperation on security and fighting terrorism.â€
The spokesman condem-ned the attack, and said his country, â€œwhich has suffered much from terrorism,â€ remains â€œan active partner in the international community in the war against terrorism.â€
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 â€œdisrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us â€” 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,â€ Obama said on Monday in Hawaii.
Yemenâ€™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.