Wealthy, quiet, unassuming: the Christmas Day bomb suspect

The inside story of the privileged student who embraced al-Qa’ida and tried to blow a transatlantic jet out of the sky – and the lessons for us all

By Andrew Johnson and Emily Dugan
The Independent [UK]
27 December 2009

With his wealth, privilege and education at one of Britain’s leading universities, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab had the world at his feet – able to choose from a range of futures in which to make his mark on the world.

Instead, the son of one of Nigeria’s most important figures opted to make his impact in a very different way – by detonating 80g of explosives sewn into his underpants, and trying to destroy a passenger jet as it came in to land at Detroit Airport on Christmas Day.

As he was charged by US authorities last night with attempting to blow up an airliner, a surprising picture emerged of the would-be bomber.

Abdulmutallab, 23, had lived a gilded life, and, for the three years he studied in London, he stayed in a £2m flat. He was from a very different background to many of the other al-Qa’ida recruits who opt for martyrdom.

The charges were read out to him by US District Judge Paul Borman in a conference room at the medical centre where he is receiving treatment for burns. Agents brought Abdulmutallab, who had a blanket over his lap and was wearing a green hospital robe, into the room in a wheelchair.

Abdulmutallab’s father, Umaru, is the former economics minister of Nigeria. He retired earlier this month as the chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria but is still on the boards of several of Nigeria’s biggest firms, including Jaiz International, a holding company for the Islamic Bank. The 70-year-old, who was also educated in London, holds the Commander of the Order of the Niger as well as the Italian Order of Merit.

Dr Mutallab said he was planning to meet with police in Nigeria last night after realising his son had joined the notorious roster of al-Qa’ida terrorists, and is said to have warned the US authorities about his son’s extreme views six months ago.

The article continues at The Independent.

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