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Yemeni cleric asked me to bomb US airline, says Mutallab

A Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a US jet  has told investigators a radical US-born Yemeni cleric directed him to explode the bomb over US soil, CBS News reported.

Senior US officials said this week that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been cooperating with interrogators after counter-terrorism officials enlisted some of his relatives in a bid to get him to talk.

According to a law enforcement source cited by CBS, Abdulmutallab has told investigators he obtained the powerful explosives PETN and TATP — which were found in his underwear after the failed attack — in Yemen.
He was then left to decide when and how to bring down an aircraft.

Abdulmutallab said Anwar al-Awlaqi, a radical preacher believed to be holed up in the remote mountains of Yemen, told him to detonate the underwear bomb over US soil, the source told CBS.

However passengers and crew overpowered him just in time to avert disaster as the plane carrying nearly 300 people made its descent to Detroit.

In an interview published by Al_Jazeera earlier this week, Awlaqi praised the plot and called Abdulmutallab his “student,” although he said he did not direct the 23_year_old Nigerian to launch the attack.

Abdulmutallab’s about_face to cooperate with US federal investigators could help authorities arrest or kill Awlaqi.
Citing its law enforcement source, CBS News said Awlaqi appears to play a leadership role in selecting targets and directing attacks for Al_Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula __ the Al_Qaeda affiliate which officials here say trained Abdulmutallab.

The cleric had previously been considered a less active player constrained to providing religious guidance and justification for the group’s operations.

Awlaqi has been linked to Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas in November.

The pair reportedly exchanged emails before the incident.

US officials told reporters Tuesday that Abdulmutallab had been cooperating with interrogators in response to an appeal from members of his family flown specially to the United States.

Two FBI counter_terrorism agents traveled to Nigeria, found relatives who were critical of his plans, and flew them to the United States on January 17, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
Abdulmutallab has been cooperating “for days,” one official said.

Republicans have criticized the White House’s handling of the Christmas Day attack and of Abdulmutallab since he was taken into custody.

However passengers and crew overpowered him just in time to avert disaster as the plane carrying nearly 300 people made its descent to Detroit. In an interview published by Al-Jazeera earlier this week, Awlaqi praised the plot and called Abdulmutallab his “student,” although he said he did not direct the 23-year-old Nigerian to launch the attack.

Abdulmutallab’s about-face to cooperate with US federal investigators could help authorities arrest or kill Awlaqi.
Citing its law enforcement source, CBS News said Awlaqi appears to play a leadership role in selecting targets and directing attacks for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — the Al-Qaeda affiliate which officials here say trained Mutallab.

The cleric had previously been considered a less active player constrained to providing religious guidance and justification for the group’s operations.

Awlaqi has been linked to Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas in November.

The pair reportedly exchanged emails before the incident.
US officials told reporters Tuesday that Abdulmutallab had been cooperating with interrogators in response to an appeal from members of his family flown specially to the United States. Two FBI counter-terrorism agents traveled to Nigeria, found relatives who were critical of his plans, and flew them to the United States on January 17, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

Mutallab has been cooperating “for days,” one official said. Republicans have criticized the White House’s handling of the Christmas Day attack and of Abdulmutallab since he was taken into custody.


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