RSS
Who is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?
Privileged son turned radical terrorist: A biographical timeline of the would-be bomber of Flight 253
I

n the wake of the attempted terrorist attack of a Northwest flight on Christmas day, a profile of the suspect, 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is beginning to emerge. Here, a timeline of the Abdulmutallab's life, as collected from media reports:

Childhood: As the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, Abdulmutallab leads a privileged childhood. For his early education, Abdulmutallab attends the British International school in Lome, Togo, where he specializes in science.

2001: According to Michael Rimmer, his history teacher at the British School, Abdulmutallab is a "very religious" boy who once defends the Taliban during class discussion on the topic. Religiousity aside, Rimmer characterizes Abdulmutallab as a "dream" student: "Very keen, enthusiastic, very bright, very polite."

Winter 2001: Abdulmutallab travels to London with his classmates on a school trip to visit Buckingham Palace.

2004: Abdulmutallab graduates from the British School with an International Baccalaureate.

2005: Abdulmutallab enrolls at University College London — one of Britain's elite universities — for his undergraduate studies.

2007: The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center adds Abdulmutallab to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, which includes 500,000 individuals with suspected ties to known terrorists or terrorist organizations. His name is not added to the "no-fly" list.

Spring 2008: Abdulmutallab graduates from University College London with a degree in mechanical engineering.

June 2008: The U.S. embassy in London grants Abdulmutallab a long-term, multi-entry tourist visa. Shortly after receiving the visa, he travels to Houston, Texas.

May 2009: Due to increased scrutiny of foreign students, British authorities deny Abulmutallab entry to the U.K. because the course of study cited on his application is judged to be "bogus."

May 2009: Abdulmutallab goes to Dubai instead on a student visa, where he studies for a master's degree at a satellite campus of an Australian university. He reportedly stays in Dubai for two-and-a-half months before "disappearing."

Fall 2009: Abdulmutallab tells his family in a text message that he wants to go to Yemen to study Arabic and Sharia law. His parents plead with him to finish his degree in Dubai, where he is expected to graduate in December. Abdulmutallab tells his family he no longer wants any contact with them.

November 2009: After threatening to cut off his son financially, Abdulamutallab's father, Nigerian banker Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, tells American and Nigerian officials that his son may have been recently "radicalized" during his travels, adding that he went to Yemen to participate in "some kind of jihad."

December 25, 2009: Abdulmutallab boards a plane in Lagos, Nigeria, flies to Amsterdam where he connects to Northwest flight 253 bound for Detroit. As the plane is descending, Abdulmutallab attempts to ignite explosives that have been sewn into his underwear. The detonator fails, and passengers aboard the flight subdue Abdulmutallab, who suffers second-degree burns. Upon landing he is arrested by U.S. authorities.

December 26, 2009: As news of the attempted terrorist attack spread, Abdulmutallab is given many names in the press, including "Christmas Terrorist" and "The Crotch Bomber."

December 28, 2009: Abdulmutallab tells FBI agents that there are "many more" people with terrorist training ready to launch their own attacks.

........................................................

SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF FLIGHT 253:

Flight 253: Who is to blame?
World newspapers reaction to attempted Northwest Airlines bombing

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week