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Detroit Bomber Failure: His Dad Tried to Warn U.S. Authorities

The TSA has a lot of explaining to do, starting with why Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was not placed on the U.S. no-fly list. (Also read Roger L. Simon, Richard Fernandez, and Phyllis Chesler.)

by
Annie Jacobsen

Bio

December 27, 2009 - 2:03 am
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According to a representative of the Dutch Royal Gendarmerie, Abdulmutallab was not screened in Schiphol because he never left the secure transit area. “Mr. Abdulmutallab did not leave the airport’s transit area” while he “transferred from one plane to another nor did he go through passport control,” the Gendarmerie representative said.

U.S. officials say Abdulmutallab claims to have received his explosives in Yemen, as well as instructions in Africa on how to detonate the bomb. This could be true (he would have had to have flown for ten hours from Africa with explosives on him), partially true (he could have picked up other components, including the syringe, along the way), or entirely false — a ruse to detract law enforcement from determining exactly how terrorists are perfecting their tactics for getting explosives onto commercial airplanes.

It will be interesting to see how this story pans out. What began being reported absurdly as “firecrackers” exploded on an airplane is now unfolding to be an international terror plot. Still, airline officials want desperately to downplay the event in this busy holiday season. Some are willing to spin tales. A senior airline official told an apocryphal tale to the New York Times — a tale which they rather bizarrely chose to print: “Mr. Abdulmutallab, who was sitting on the left side of the aircraft, may not have been trying to blow up the plane, but possibly intended to cause a fire to distract the cabin crew, cause passengers to panic and create a stampede for the exits as the plane was landing, a senior airline industry official who had been briefed on the situation said Saturday,” the unnamed airline official said.

In reality, Islamic jihadists have been trying to blow up airplanes over American soil for decades. That this plot follows suit is a far more plausible explanation. In 2003, Osama bin Laden called on Muslims in oil-rich Nigeria to rise up against one of the “regimes who are slaves of America.”

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Annie Jacobsen writes the "Backstory" blog (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/back-story/) for the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
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