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Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Nigerian Attacker Story for Television

Al Jazeera English took some fresh angles for me to examine on the story Saturday which has been headlining now since Thursday evening, when I got a tip off from America that it was not a firework which had been exploded but something far more sinister.

Al Jazeera London asked me to talk on security implications in the wake of the failed attempt, probable new strategies being deployed by Al Qaeda, and we discussed off-camera the politicization of this security issue in Washington.

An excellent Deputy News Editor called Awad Joumaa in London from Al Jazeera HQ in Doha conducted the interview having spent much of the day in central London outside the suspect's flat. Awad had examined the electoral roll, finding several members with the same family surname registered to the luxury flat.

ABC News published an excellent write up describing how Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab was connected with Al Qaeda leaders after making an internet approach and taken to a village North of Yemen capital Sanaa.

American born imam Anwar Awlaki who survived a US backed air attack this week is a major Al Qaeda recruiter. Abdulmutallab lived with him in Yemen for about a month.

The device, according to ABC News, was made at the village in Yemen, and consisted of a six-inch packet of powder and a syringe with a liquid. Both were sewn into the student's underwear.
On the subject of security measures, given the location of the device this time, I'm not sure that even a "pat down" would detect something like this. The body scan I mentioned on Al Jazeera might work better, but my American aviation security source told me, "Magnetometers and puffer machines don't always catch everything.Screening doesn't always work."

I think Yemen is going to play a major role in training militants and launching anti-US attacks in future as Afghan camps reduce somewhat, though the Afghan Pakistan border remains highly porous and militant leaders adopt smaller, more mobile methods of training and operations.

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