Tags: Nigerian | terror | try | bomber

Nigerian Used Yemeni School as Cover for Terror

Thursday, 31 Dec 2009 12:25 PM


SANA, Yemen — Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb an airplane last week, already spoke fluent Arabic by the time he arrived here in Yemen for classes last summer, impressing his instructors with his command of the language he had supposedly come to improve.

Then, after six weeks in and out of class, the school got him an exit visa, and on Sept. 21 even arranged for a car that took Mr. Abdulmutallab to the airport, the director said.

“After that we never saw him again, and apparently he did not leave Yemen,” the director, Muhammed al-Anisi said. “We heard later that he may have gone to Hadramawt,” the poor eastern province where Al Qaeda is strong, and from where Osama bin Laden’s father left poverty to make his fortune in Saudi Arabia.

In retrospect, Mr. Anisi suspects, Mr. Abdulmutallab simply used the school as a formal pretext to legally re-enter Yemen last summer after being recruited elsewhere by Al Qaeda.

“I do wonder if the school was an excuse,” he said, noting that Mr. Abdulmutallab remained in Yemen after his visa expired, disappearing into Yemen’s Qaeda training grounds and emerging on Christmas Day to try to blow up a packed airplane heading to Detroit. When he left Yemen in December, the authorities here acknowledge, no one stopped Mr. Abdulmutallab for overstaying his visa.

Mr. Anisi spoke on Thursday for the first time, after three days of questioning by the Yemeni security services. His office is adorned with numerous framed certificates of appreciation for his teaching from the American Peace Corps, which closed its program here about five years ago. Now Mr. Anisi is distraught at what is happening to the reputation of his language school.

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2009-25-31
Thursday, 31 Dec 2009 12:25 PM
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