Airline bomber was barred from Britain

Former student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly attempted to blow up US jet, had UK visa request refused in May

David Leppard and Chris Gourlay
The Sunday Times [UK]
27 December 2009

THE son of a prominent Nigerian banker, who allegedly attempted to blow up a transatlantic flight over America, was barred from returning to Britain earlier this year.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, graduated from a university in London last year but his visa request was refused in May when he attempted to apply for a new course at a bogus college.

Abdulmutallab, described as a devout Muslim, attempted to ignite an explosive device on a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day after shouting about Afghanistan.Bomb materials had apparently been sewn into his underwear, an authoritative American report said.

The incident led to increased security at UK airports and delays of up to five hours for passengers in Britain yesterday.

For the past two years Abdulmutallab has been on a United States watchlist for people known to have extremist links, but he was not prevented from flying to America. UK officials indicated that he had passed across MI5’s radar but was not deemed sufficiently threatening to warrant surveillance.

Abdulmutallab began his journey in Nigeria and then changed planes in Amsterdam. Peter King, a Republican congressman, claimed he did not go through full-body image screening at either airport.

All airlines flying to America have now imposed heightened security, including “pat-down” checks for all passengers and a hand luggage check at the gate.

Abdulmutallab was from a privileged background. His father, Dr Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, was until recently the head of First Bank of Nigeria and had been a government minister during the 1970s.

Abdulmutallab studied engineering for three years at University College London. His father said yesterday that he had lost contact with his son after he left London in November last year.

The article continues at The Sunday Times.

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