Bomb Plot Suspect Tied To Alleged U.K. Terrorists
British and U.S. intelligence authorities have linked the young Nigerian at the center of the alleged attack on Northwest Flight 253, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to two men accused of ties to major terrorist plots in the United Kingdom, NPR has learned.
British and U.S. officials have been feverishly tracking down leads on anyone who had contact with Abdulmutallab during the three years he was a student in London. His father sent him to study mechanical engineering at University College London in 2005. It was Abdulmutallab's first experience in the West, and those who knew him in London said he was quiet and somewhat lonely.
That has meant that leads about his contacts with other potential terrorists have been few and far between. One official told NPR that Abdulmutallab had few friends, and though he attended several local mosques, he made no impression on the elders who worshipped there.
Scotland Yard had opened what it called a tracer file on Abdulmutallab. Essentially, it was a file that indicated that he had contacts with extremists in the U.K., but that there was no reason to think those contacts would lead to violence. One official in London said there was a "jihadi subculture in the U.K. that numbers in the thousands." This subculture apparently included people like Abdulmutallab, who either dabbled in extremist ideas or ran in circles that sometimes included potential terrorism suspects. Security services in London decided long ago that they didn't have the resources to follow those tracer leads. Instead, they focused on several hundred people they thought were more likely to launch attacks. Abdulmutallab, by their accounts, fell into the broader category of young Muslims who were just dabbling in radical ideas.
Contacts With Suspected Terrorists
But when they returned to Abdulmutallab's file after the alleged Christmas Day airliner attack, officials started to see the signs of a possible switch in Abdulmutallab's mindset. The first worrisome contact they flagged after the incident was with a man linked to a 2006 plot. In that case, a group allegedly planned to detonate liquid bombs onboard at least seven passenger planes en route to the U.S. and Canada. That plot is the reason passengers are no longer permitted to carry more than 3 ounces of liquid onboard a plane....http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122868637&ft=1&f=1001