8 Jan 2010

Would-be Detroit bomber previously met Muslim radical

10:44 am on 8 January 2010

Officials in Yemen have confirmed that a Nigerian man who tried to bomb a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day met the radical Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, who Washington accuses of instigating terrorism, in Yemen.

Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi said the two men met when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab visited Shabwa province.

Abdulmutallab, 23, was indicted by a grand jury in the United States on six charges on Wednesday.

The charges include attempted murder of the 290 people aboard the plane and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Abdulmutallab tried to detonate a bomb on Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, but the plane landed safely after he was overpowered by passengers.

The BBC reports al-Awlaki has been linked to an attack by a US Army major at the Fort Hood base in November, in which 13 people died.

Lagos security checks

Meanwhile, Nigeria has offered to provide American investigators with images of Abdulmutallab going through security checks at Lagos airport on Christmas Eve.

Abdulmutallab was in transit at Lagos, having arrived from Accra in Ghana before boarding a flight to Amsterdam and on to Detroit on Christmas Day.

Justice Minister Michael Aondoaaka says the pictures will prove airport security personnel at Lagos had done their job.

The government has demanded that Nigeria be removed from a watchlist of 14 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, introduced this week after a security review ordered by President Barack Obama.