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Sunday, December 27

How much more information did Homeland want, Ms Napolitano, before bumping Mutallab from U.S. flights? (UPDATED)

Re the statement from the following Telegraph report: "Embassy officials in Nigeria, who had been warned of Mutallab’s behaviour by his father, were accused of not wording their warning more strongly."

From B. Raman's latest analysis at his blog about Mutallab's terror attack on Detroit-bound NWA Flight 235, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria had also been warned about Mutallab:
[...] 5. The first person to sound a wake-up call about Abdulmutallab was his father, who is a reputed banker of Nigeria. He reportedly came to know of his son going to Yemen from Dubai and unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to go back to Dubai and resume his studies. When he did not succeed, he is reported to have shared his concerns over his son with the US Embassy in Nigeria and with the Nigerian authorities. The suspicions or concerns of the father were conveyed by the US Embassy to the appropriate authorities in Washington DC, who rightly included his name in a data base of about 550000 names of persons, who have come to adverse notice, but the evidence against whom was not strong enough to deny them a visa or to prevent them from flying to the US.[...]
Also, a few minutes ago "Freedom Fairy" sent me an interesting report on the Mutallab case, which I'll be posting later this morning.
The (U.K.) Telegraph has additional details on the inexplicable behavior of security officials in the USA and the United Kingdom:
Security sources believe that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, 23, may have developed links with other extremists during the three years he spent studying at University College London.

The Security Service is concerned that the son of a respected Nigerian banker was "off the radar" while living in Britain from 2005 to 2008 on a student visa.

Little more than a year later he went on to attempt a terrorist attack after being trained by al-Qaeda. Officers are trying to track his movements and activities while in the country amid suspicions that he may not have acted alone.


They suspect that he had planned to launch the attack from Britain but was stopped after being refused a student visa earlier this year to study at a college that was judged to have been bogus.


Concerns were raised about the student visa system that allowed Mutallab to stay in Britain for three years. Whitehall officials have expressed fears previously that extremists were exploiting lax rules.

MI5 and the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command have drafted in extra staff to search for any links Mutallab may have to radicals. Sources said it was not Britain that supplied the information that led to Mutallab being put on the US "watch list".

"We have not come up with anything but we are now going back through our work to see if he may have been on the periphery of another group or trying to contact radicals in this country," said one.

"We need to know what he was doing in the UK and whether he was just a student. There may be some fragment that we come across that sheds some light on that."

Mutallab’s attack raises questions about the operations of intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. British security officers will need to explain why they remained unaware of a would-be terrorist living in London for three years.

Earlier this year, Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, suggested that al-Qaeda cells in Britain were being forced to "keep their heads down" due to the success of the service’s operations.

The attempted atrocity will also prompt concerns in the US that Britain is increasingly being used as a base by Islamic extremists planning attacks overseas.

In Washington, US officials are already under pressure to explain why the threat posed by Mutallab was not taken more seriously and why alarm bells did not ring when he paid for his ticket in cash and did not check in any luggage.

Embassy officials in Nigeria, who had been warned of Mutallab’s behaviour by his father, were accused of not wording their warning more strongly. Janet Napolitano, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, said "there had never been any additional information supplied that would move him to a secondary list" [Mutallab was put on the U.S. list of terror suspects in November.]


[Mutallab] has told the FBI that al-Qaeda provided the bomb materials and training after he made contact with a cell in Yemen. He bought a ticket for almost $3,000 and, carrying a US visa issued in London last year, returned to Nigeria on Dec 24.

He flew to Schipol airport in Amsterdam and transferred to the flight to Detroit.

Mr Obama asked for a review of security and screening procedures after it emerged that Mutallab used explosive materials similar to those used in December, 2001, by Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber.

His device included PETN, one of the ingredients of the plastic explosive Semtex, but got through security in Nigeria and Holland. He had allegedly hidden the powder in a condom strapped to his inner thigh along with a syringe of liquid to mix with it.

It is thought that he assembled the device in the lavatory after complaining to fellow passengers about a stomach upset. It ignited but did not explode, merely causing a small fire that was extinguished by the crew as other passengers leapt on Mutallab.

Mutallab lived with relatives in a West End apartment while studying at UCL but cut off ties with his family after he graduated. He moved to the Middle East and then to Yemen, sending a text message last August warning them that they may not see him for a number of years.

There was another alert last night after a second plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Detroit. The pilot raised the alarm after a Nigerian on the flight from Amsterdam locked himself in the lavatory for up to an hour. He was eventually dragged out after crew broke down the door, but no explosives were found.
Is it something in the water in the U.K. and U.S. that puts sleepwalkers in charge of internal security? Perhaps the most upsetting mealy-mouthed excuse is Homeland's complaint that the warning to the U.S. from the Nigerian embassy officials was not worded strongly enough. What did Homeland want from the embassy before they would place Mutallab on a no-fly list? Forensic evidence that he was planning a terrorist attack -- er, "man disaster attack?" The date and the flight plan?
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