By lex, on December 27th, 2009
New details are being revealed about terror’s latest gelding:
With his wealth, privilege and education at one of Britain’s leading universities, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab had the world at his feet – able to choose from a range of futures in which to make his mark on the world.
Instead, the son of one of Nigeria’s most important figures opted to make his impact in a very different way – by detonating 80g of explosives sewn into his underpants, and trying to destroy a passenger jet as it came in to land at Detroit Airport on Christmas Day…
Abdulmutallab, 23, had lived a gilded life, and, for the three years he studied in London, he stayed in a £2m flat. He was from a very different background to many of the other al-Qa’ida recruits who opt for martyrdom…
Abdulmutallab’s father, Umaru, is the former economics minister of Nigeria. He retired earlier this month as the chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria but is still on the boards of several of Nigeria’s biggest firms, including Jaiz International, a holding company for the Islamic Bank. The 70-year-old, who was also educated in London, holds the Commander of the Order of the Niger as well as the Italian Order of Merit.
This bit stands out:
Fabrizio Cavallo Marincola, 22, who studied mechanical engineering beside Abdulmutallab – nicknamed Biggie – at University College London, said that he graduated in May 2008 and showed no signs of radicalisation or of links to al-Qa’ida. “We worked on projects together,” he said. “He always did the bare minimum of work and would just show up to classes. When we were studying, he always would go off to pray.
“He was pretty quiet and didn’t socialise much or have a girlfriend that I knew of. I didn’t get to talk to him much on a personal level. I was really shocked when I saw the reports. You would never imagine him pulling off something like this.”
At least the “last line of defense” * worked.
Make no mistake, we only missed a large-scale disaster through a divine intersection of Providence and incompetence. Abdulmutallab was no doubt surprised that his deity preferred to take only his own scorched wedding tackle for a Christmas present rather than the whole plane and all the passengers aboard, but it could just as easily have gone the other way.
(Several) airlines released detailed information about the restrictions, saying that passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. It was not clear how often the rule would affect domestic flights.
Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item, and domestic passengers will probably face longer security lines. That was already the case in some airports Saturday, in the United States and overseas.
Airline flying has already gone from pleasurable experience to enormous PITA, but if this keeps up I’m seeing a real business opportunity in commercial charters, at least for shorter legs.
Update 2: Marc Ambinder spins says that the president is just maintaining an appropriate distance above the fray –
Authorities respond appropriately; the President (as this president is want to to) presides over the federal response. His senior aides speak for him, letting reporters know that he’s videoconferencing regularly, that he’s ordering a review of terrorist watch lists, that he’s discoursing with his Secretary of Homeland Security.
But an in-person Obama statement isn’t needed; Indeed, a message expressing command, control, outrage and anger might elevate the importance of the deed, would generate panic (because Obama usually DOESN’T talk about the specifics of cases like this, and so him deciding to do so would cue the American people to respond in a way that exacerbates the situation.
Well, maybe. If it was something so important as a dispute between a Cambridge police officer and a Harvard professor, the president might jump right in, but a case of attempted international terrorism might require a certain imperial aloofness. Or maybe he’s just learning when to speak and when to hold his tongue.
Whichever: As long as it keeps him out of Washington I’m all for it.
* 09-23-2018 Link Gone; no replacements found – Ed.