27 December 2009

Background: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

For some great additional background and bio data on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and the circumstances behind his failed attempt to detonate a PETN-based bomb on Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit, check out the following resources:

-Steve Coll at his blog Think Tank does a great job of examining the attacks in the wider context of the overall global al Qaeda movement. He also provides a good primer on the Nigerian Taliban aka Boko Haram, which maintains loose ties with AQ and could be viewed as a "feeder" for AQAP. For more on Nigeria and Boko Haram, check out Josh's post from last month here.

-Coll also provides a link to a good, in-depth bio of Abdulmutallab from the Nigerian newspaper This Day. The article provides some interesting insight into the attacker's upbringing as well details about his father, a prominent international banker, who actually reported his own son to US authorities last month.

-Wes Bruer at the Long War Journal gives us some good background and commentary from Bill Roggio about possible links between Abdulmutallab and AQAP in Yemen.

-The NY Times provides important details about the reporting of Abdulmutallab's name to US authorities at the US Embassy in Nigeria - by the attacker's own father. The article also highlights the fact that his name was added to the TIDE (Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment) database, which is supposed to be used to track potential terrorists and provide a base for the "no-fly" list.

-Peter Bergen provides some excellent original analysis at CNN based on the method of attack and the type of explosive. He argues that there are several key similarities between the failed attack attempt by Abdulmutallab and the failed assassination attempt on Saudi prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the head of Saudi Arabia's CT efforts. The attacker who targeted Nayef also used PETN and the plot was linked back to Yemen. This link could be critical to unraveling the origins of the failed Christmas Day plot on Northwest Flight 253.

-Finally, Abu Nasr at Challenge COIN does a great job of summarizing the similarities between many of the recent terrorist attacks in the last few months, providing a rough profile that can be used to better understand the origins and motivations of the individuals who are perpetrating these attacks. His "un-politically correct" analysis is exactly the type of honest dialog we need to be having in the face of increasing domestic terrorist threats.

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