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Failed plane bomber was on MI5's radar

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 29 December 2009

Channel 4 News has learnt that the man accused of the Christmas Day plane bomb attempt had come across MI5's radar while he was a student in London. Andy Davies reports.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (picture: Reuters)

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab enrolled on a mechanical engineering course at University College London between September 2005 and June 2008. He joined the institution's Islamic society and became its president in 2006/2007.

Prior to this Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab felt lonely and alienated a British boarding school. Experts are examining internet postings allegedly left on an Islamic Forum website by the then teenager which could help explain why he turned towards radicalisation.

Al-Qaeda in Yemen, has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing of a Delta Airlines plane as it prepared to land in Detroit.


The 23-year-old lived in Yemen from August to December and has reportedly told FBI agents that he is one of many would-be terrorists in Yemen ready to carry out attacks on Western targets in the near future.

Yemen's Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi has said there could be up to 300 al-Qaeda militants in his country: "There are a number of al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen and some of their leaders. We realise this danger, And they may actually plan for attacks like the one we have just had in Detroit."

He could not quantify the exact amount but said:"There are maybe hundreds of them: 200, 300 -- I don't have real (hard) figures."

Qirbi has called for intelligence-sharing in order to stop al-Qaeda suspects travelling to Yemen from countries known to be hotbeds of militancy and appealed for more help from the international community to train and equip counter-terrorist forces to neutralise them.

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