A Nigerian college kid studying engineering in London, Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallab certainly doesn't sound like a would-be terrorist. So why
did Abdulmutallab try to ignite explosives, which he says he got from al-Qaeda in Yemen
on a Northwestern flight on Christmas? Abdulmutallab's father, a
Nigerian banker, warned U.S. officials that his son had developed
radical ideas and then disappeared. Why was Abdulmutallab still allowed
to travel inside the U.S.? Perhaps most pointedly, what will happen
next to the failed bomber, who is currently housed in a federal prison
in Michigan? To be sure, he and his failed attack represent broader
questions about airport security
, and al-Qaeda in Yemen
. But what's next for Abdulmutallab?
- What He Represents The New Yorker's Steve Coll contextualizes. "Abdulmutallab appears cut from the now-familiar cloth of transnational
Islamic violence: As the analyst Marc Sageman once formulated it, the
biography is one of dislocation and radicalization that often seems to
involve a young man who is raised in country A, becomes radicalized in
country B, and then decides to attack country C, with “C” often (but
not always) being the United States," he writes. "The best clues about the mystery of Abdulmutallab’s relationship, if
any, with other radical Islamists will probably lie in the technical
sophistication and history of his thwarted pants-on-fire bombing plan."
The Life of Abdulmutallab Nigerian newspaper This Day profiles
the young man (link via Steve Coll), who "had been noted for his
extreme views on religion since his secondary
school days at the British International School, Lome, Togo. At the
secondary school, he was known for preaching about Islam to his
school mates and he was popularly called “Alfa”, a local coinage for
Islamic scholar. After his secondary school, the suspect went to
University College London to study mechanical engineering and later
relocated to Egypt, and then Dubai. While in Dubai in the United Arab
Emirates, he declared to his family members that he did not want to
have anything to do with any of them again." Click through for more.
His Civilian Trial Will Show They're Safe The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen compares
Abdulmutallab's little-noticed detention in Michigan and his impending
civilian trial to the apoplexy over other terrorists getting the same
treatment. "Abdulmutallab is, by all appearances, a two-bit thug. His
in a federal prison, and later in a federal criminal court, is not
cause for panic. It's simply the justice system at work -- we've done
this before; we'll do this again. It's best not to freak out," he
writes. "But the larger point has broader applicability. Bringing Umar
Abdulmutallab to a federal court need not terrify Americans, nor should
Khalid Sheik Mohammed's proceedings. Putting Abdulmutallab behind bars
on American soil does not undermine our national security, and nor
would any of the detainees at Gitmo."
No Fault On No-Fly List Democracy Arsenal's Michael Cohen takes on
criticism that U.S. officials should have known not to let
Adbulmutallab enter. "After all, his father warned the US government of
radical views in November. But the father provided minimal information
and there was little reason to believe that Abdulmutallab was a serious
threat. I suppose there is a view that US intelligence agencies operate
like they do in the movies but the fact is the USG simply lacks the resources to run down every possibly radicalized individual out there."
- Should Be Jailed Permanently, Interrogated Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb calls for it. "If he were treated as an enemy combatant and transferred to military
commission system, we could use Army Field Manual techniques without
Miranda (not as effective as enhanced techniques, of course, but much
better than standard police practice). We could use his non-Mirandized
statements against him in military commissions, so long as the
statements were not forcibly coerced and were otherwise reliable.
Instead, it's three squares a day, the best legal defense the ACLU can
provide, and maybe the chance for parole before the kids he was trying
to kill on that plane even make it out of college."
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