Published December 26, 2009
The father of a Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day reportedly warned the U.S. about his son's extreme religious views and activities, Nigerian newspaper This Day reported.
The suspected terrorist has been identified as 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. His father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, was a former minister and well-known banker, recently retiring from his chairman position at First Bank Nigeria, the paper reported.
A close family source said that the father left his hometown of Katsina, in northern Nigeria, to speak with security agencies on Saturday.
Family members said the father had become uncomfortable and concerned about his son's fanatical religious views in recent months. They said, as a result, he reported his son's activities to the U.S. Embassy and Nigerian security agencies six months ago.
The father was reportedly devastated to hear the reports about his son's arrest and alleged role in trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane.
A close friend said the father was shocked to learn that his son was even allowed to travel to the U.S. after he had reported him to U.S. authorities, the paper reported.
U.K. police are searching the family's home in central London.
Ever since his early school days at the British International School in Togo, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had been known for his extreme religious views, preaching about Islam to his classmates, the paper reported.
His young classmates reportedly referred to him as "Alfa," which was a local term for an Islamic scholar.
He went on to study engineering at the University College in London, and then moved to Egypt and then to Dubai.
While living in Dubai, he reportedly told his family that he didn't want anything to do with them ever again, the paper reported.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's father is believed to make regular trips to the U.S. for medical check-ups and vacations.
The Nigerian government issued a statement on Saturday: "Federal Government of Nigeria received with dismay the news of an attempted terrorist attack on a U.S. airline," Professor Dora Akunyili, minister of information and communications, said in the statement.
"We state very clearly that as a nation, we abhor all forms of terrorism. The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has directed Nigerian security agencies to commence full investigation of the incident. While steps are being taken to verify the identity of the alleged suspect and his motives, our security agencies will cooperate fully with the American authorities in the on-going investigations. Nigerian government will be providing updates as more information becomes available."
The U.S. government did create a file on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the intelligence community's main repository of information on known and suspected international terrorists, in November 2009, Reuters reported.
He was not put on the no-fly list because authorities couldn't find enough negative information on him, a U.S. administration official said Saturday, according to Reuters.
"There was insufficient derogatory information available on the subject at that time," the official said, according to Reuters.
"Thus, he was not watchlisted as of December 25, 2009."
A senior administration official told Fox News that here are over 400,000 individuals in the Terrorist Screening Data Base (TSDB), the main identities database within the U.S. Government for international terrorism.
The TSDB is a subset of the 550,000 individuals contained in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), which is the Intelligence Community’s central repository of information on known and suspected international terrorists. Less than 4,000 of the names in the TSDB are on the “No Fly” list and another 14,000 names are on the “Selectee” list, which calls for mandatory secondary screening. There are established criteria for both the no fly and selectee lists.
A TIDE record on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was created in November 2009; there was insufficient derogatory information available on the subject at that time to include him in the TSDB or its “no fly” or “selectee” lists. Thus, he was not “watchlisted” as of 25 December 2009.
A former government official who is very familiar with airline security but not involved in this investigation, told Fox News that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's airplane seat selection does not appear to have been randomly selected. The suspected terrorist was sitting in seat 19A, which, according to the official, is located right above the fuel tanks, atop the wing and next to the skin of the aircraft.
If there is an explosion, the official said there is a high likelihood that the explosion could be accelerated by the fuel tank, damaging the plane's structure and puncturing the skin, which would bring down the plane.
The official said that when homeland security analyzes attempted plots, one of the first things they look at it is where the suspect was sitting on the aircraft. This seat selection is considered one of the two most vulnerable parts of the aircraft, according to the official.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of setting off a device aboard a Northwest flight upon landing in Detroit, which resulted in a fire and what appears to have been an explosion.
He was reportedly subdued and restrained by the passengers and flight crew. The airplane landed shortly thereafter, and he was taken into custody by Customs and Border Patrol officers.
Preliminary FBI analysis found that the device contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, a highly explosive device. FBI agents recovered what appear to be the remnants of the syringe from the vicinity of Abdulmutallab's seat, believed to have been part of the device.
Abdulmutallab required medical treatment, and was transported to the University of Michigan Medical Center after the plane landed.
U.S. District Judge Paul Borman read Abdulmutallab his charges in a conference room on Saturday at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, where he is being treated for burns.
Agents brought Abdulmutallab into the room in a wheelchair. He had a blanket over his lap and wore a green hospital robe.
The judge asked Abdulmutallab if he understood the charges against him. He responded in English: "Yes, I do."
The judge told Abdulmutallab that he will be held until his next court appearance on January 8.