Update: More details emerge about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — From wealthy soccer fan to suspected terrorist
Details are still pouring in by the minute, but here’s what we know so far about a man who was subdued after lighting an explosive device on a board flying into Detroit on Christmas:
UCL: “Media outlets are suggesting several different names for the man arrested in connection with an attempted act of terrorism on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in the early hours of December 26th. UCL has no record of an ‘Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab’ having been enrolled at the institution. UCL can confirm that a student by the name of ‘Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’ was enrolled on a Mechanical Engineering course at the institution between September 2005 and June 2008. However, it must be stressed that the university has no evidence that this is the same person currently being referred to in the media. Until the situation becomes clearer, UCL will not be making any further comment.”
He is being treated at the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor for burn wounds, although the hospital cannot comment on that situation.
Detroit terror attack: suspect president of university Islamic society
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged Detroit bomber, was president of University College London’s Islamic society, according to a university spokesman.
Terror suspect Abdulmutallab, who is charged with attempting to destroy the Christmas Day Northwest Airlines Flight 253, was president of the society between 2006 and 2007.
Faisal Hanra, a spokesman for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, said: “We became aware that Abdulmutallab was president of the Islamic Society within the last 24 hours.
“It came as quite a shock. This raises a number of concerns, and we are making efforts to contact as many members of the society from the time as we can.”
UCL said that Abdulmutallab, who was a full-time student from 2005 until 2008 “never gave his tutors any cause for concern”, adding that he was “well mannered, quietly spoken, polite and able”.
The university’s Islamic Society last month attracted criticism after allowing Abu Usama to speak on campus – Usama has previously preached that homosexuals and opponents of Islam should be killed and women are mentally deficient. The university called off the event after protests.
Abdulmutallab, 23, is at the centre of a major terror investigation on both sides of the Atlantic after allegedly attempting to detonate a powdery substance on a flight from Amsterdam as it prepared to land in Detroit with 278 people on board on Christmas Day.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering’s statement said: “Given the intense media interest surrounding Mr Umar Abdulmutallab, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, UCL, can confirm that a person of this name and description attended the department as a full-time student between 2005 and 2008, and studied for an undergraduate degree in engineering with business finance.
“The department’s association with him ended in June 2008 after he successfully graduated.
“The department, in common with UCL, admits students solely on the basis of their academic abilities without regard to a person’s political, racial or religious background.
“During his time on the course Mr Abdulmutallab never gave his tutors any cause for concern, and was a well mannered, quietly spoken, polite and able young man.
“We are deeply shocked by the recent news concerning Mr Abdulmutallab.
“The Department is currently co-operating with the authorities in their investigations, and as such cannot issue any further information covering Mr Abdulmutallab’s period at UCL.”
Earlier, a regional wing of al-Qaeda, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day attack.
In a statement posted on Islamist websites, the group said it had provided the Nigerian suspect with a “technically advanced device” but that it had failed to detonate because of a technical fault.
The group added that the failed attack was in response to US attacks on the group in Yemen, while it also urged the killing of Western embassy workers in the region as part of an “all out war on Crusaders”.
Barack Obama, the US President, said that a full investigation has been launched into the incident, adding that “we will not rest until we have found all those responsible.”
Speaking during his holiday in Honolulu, he said: “We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists.”
Security agencies in Britain and the US are under increasing pressure to explain how Abdulmutallab was able to board the aircraft despite being on intelligence “watch lists” in both countries.
He had been banned from entering Britain after he applied for a student visa in May to study at a bogus college, according to Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary.
And six weeks ago, his family in Nigeria contacted US security officials to express “concerns” he had become radicalised after he “disappeared” to Yemen, resulting in him being put on a US anti-terror database.
Because the two countries failed to share intelligence however, neither was aware of the full picture.