No Terrorism from Yemen.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (1986- ) grew up in Kaduna, Nigeria.  In the early 2000s, simmering Muslim-Christian conflicts boiled over in several destructive and deadly riots.  Perhaps about this time, in his early teens, Abdulmutallab became increasingly pious in his Muslim faith.  Abdulmutallab’s parents were wealthy, so he received an excellent education.  In 2004-2005 he studied Arabic at the San’a Institute for the Arabic Language in San’a, Yemen.[1]  At the same time, he attended lectures at Iman University.[2]  While studying in Britain from 2005 to 2008, his contacts with radical Islamists came to the attention of MI-5, Britain’s internal security organization.  In 2009, he obtained a visa to visit the United States.  When returning from his visit to the United States, however, Abdulmuttalab was denied re-entry into Britain and his name went on a security watch list.[3]

From August to December 2009, Abdulmutallab returned to Yemen.[4]  Soon, he made contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, an American renegade who played an important role in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[5]  Awlaki carefully assessed Abdulmuttalab in a series of meetings.  Then he persuaded the young man to accept a “martyrdom operation” directed against the United States.[6]  When Abdulmuttalab accepted the mission, Awlaki supervised his preparation.  AQAP’s bomb-makers equipped Abdulmuttalab with an explosive device concealed in his underwear.  Along the way, Abumuttalab shared quarters with Said Kouachi.  At the end of the training, Awlaki advised his protégé to travel by way of an African country to disguise the fact that he had been in Yemen.

On 11 November 2009, the British informed the Americans of a report that an “Umar Farouk” had been in contact with Awlaki.  On 19 November 2009, Abdulmutallab’s father, alarmed at strange messages from his son, contacted the American Embassy in Nigeria.  He warned them about his son Umar Farouk.  Abdulmuttalab’s name went on one terrorist data-base, but not on two others, including the “No Fly List.”  No one noticed his existing American visa.

Abdulmuttalab did as he was told.  Traveling by way of Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nigeria, he reached Amsterdam.  Then he booked a flight on Northwest Airlines flight 253.  By Christmas Day, 2009, the flight was over American soil, bound for Detroit.  So far, so good.

Then something went amiss.  The evidence is that being a martyr is a stressful business.  One tends to sweat a lot while contemplating what one is about to do.  Thus, the “shoe bomber” sweated a lot, soaking the soles of his shoes.  He could not get the charge to ignite before he was wrestled into submission.  So, too, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab sweated through his clothes.  Starting from the inside out, that meant that his underwear bore the brunt of his pre-Paradise nerves.[7]  When he tried to set off the bomb, it misfired.  Like the “shoe bomber,” the “underwear bomber” then succumbed to superior force.[8]

In addition to Abdulmuttalab, the plane carried 289 passengers and crew.

But no, not a single American has been killed in the United States by a terrorist coming from Yemen.  Multiple lines of defense and sophisticated data bases provide rigorous vetting of potential terrorists.

[1] Much later, Said Kouachi also attended the school.  See:

[2] See:  Iman University’s founder had just been designated a terrorist by the U.S. government.  Among the university’s alums is John Walker Lindh.

[3] In neither case did the British share this information with the Americans.

[4] See:  and  Sorry to reference myself.

[5] See:

[6] Scott Shane, “F.B.I. Interviews Tell of Cleric’s Role in Bomb Plot,” NYT, 23 February 2017.

[7] Perhaps it would make the most sense for the Trump administration to issue a travel ban on sweaty people?  Nah, it would just lead to charges of perspiro-phobia.  OK, back to the drawing board.

[8] One of those applying the force was a Dutch tourist.  I was hoping he would turn out to be a Swede.