The relatively new branch of al-Qaeda operatives based in Yemen have evolved from Osama bin Laden's ideology of attacking targets of significance in favor of striking whenever and wherever opportunity is present, a media report states.
An admitted al-Qaeda operative revealed the guerrilla terrorism tactics, of which the Yemen-based branch has adopted, during the interrogation and plea bargaining that followed his failed airline bombing attempt on December, 25 of 2009.
Days earlier, in Ghana, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab paid $2,831 in cash for a round-trip ticket from Nigeria, to Amsterdam, to Detroit and back to Nigeria. On the day of his departure, Abdulmutallab boarded Northwest Airlines flight 253 in Nigeria, toting only carry-on luggage and a bomb hidden in his underpants.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Abdulmutallab was born into a life of luxury in Narobi. He was the youngest of 16 children fathered by a wealthy African businessman. During his teenage years, Abdulmutallab was enrolled in a British-style boarding school for the children of diplomats and rich West African businessmen. Leading up to his high school graduation, Abdulmutallab demonstrated subtle hints of depression and kept primarily to himself. Upon his graduation in 2005, he received a trip to Yemen to take a course in Arabic. Abdulmutallab was elated by the trip, but upon returning to Britain, though he lived in a family-maintained apartment in a posh London neighborhood, his study efforts at Britain's University College London were as mediocre as they were in boarding school. One accomplishment Abdulmutallab can be credited for is becoming head of the Islamic Society of the University, which he used as an opportunity to denounce American oppression in the Middle East and promote many other radical Islamic beliefs.
In 2008, Abdulmutallab traveled to Houston, TX on a visa to attend Islamic religious gatherings. In August, 2009 he traveled back to Yemen to again enroll in language studies. In a compelling story titled "The Radicalization of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab" Mark Hosenball volumizes these facts and more, and also contests the follies of United States counter-terrorism and White House officials. Hosenball writes about Abdulmutallab's father visiting the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, more then a month before the December 2009 incident, expressing concern for the whereabouts of his son and his fear of his son's recruitment into al-Qaeda.
The Associated Press reports Abdulmutallab visited the home of Fahd al-Quso, the FBI's third most wanted member of al-Qaeda and a pioneer of the organizations Yemen branch through direct orders of Osama bin Laden. The pair plotted the attack and Abdullmutallab left for Ghana, then made his way to Nigeria to launch his mission.
Osama bin Laden (right)
U.S. intelligence officials discussed with the AP, under condition of anonymity, regarding Abdulmutallab's choice destination of Detroit. From their accounts, Abdulmutallab's visa to Britain was no longer valid, but he still possessed a visa allowing several re-entries into the United States. Abdulmutallab first plotted Houston, then Chicago, but was deterred from both due to discouraging ticket prices. This behavior highlights the difference between traditional al-Qaeda and the organization's Yemen branch; Abdulmutallab finally settled on Detroit due to the affordability of air transportation to the city.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is scheduled to appear in trial in October 2011, facing charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring with others to kill the 281 passengers and 11 crew members who were aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253. Abdulmutallab will be acting as his own representative in court.