Yemeni Dy PM Plays down Abdulmutallab’s Connection to Country

Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister Rashad Alimi has downplayed his country’s connection to the Nigerian youth Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who made a failed attempt to blow up a US plane on Christmas Day, saying that he became an al-Qaida militant in Britain.

Talking to reporters in Sana’a, Alimi said that Abdulmutallab jointed Osama bin Laden’s group when he was living in Britain from 2005 to 2008.

“The information we have is that Umar Farouk joined Al Qaeda in London,” he said.

He also said that Abdulmutallab, who was an engineering student onetime and is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, set off alarm bells in Britain and was not allowed to re-enter the country.

“But Yemen didn’t get that intelligence,” Alimi said.

Alimi’s remarks are the most elaborate public explanation hitherto by any government official about Abdulmullab’s connection to Yemen.

However, the Yemeni deputy prime minister acknowledged that Abdulmutallab met with radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al Awlaki last fall at a far-flung meeting place in Shabwa province that has since been destroyed.

But Alimi said that Abdulmutallab didn’t get the explosives in Yemen. He also said that Abdulmutallab passed undetected through Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and the Netherlands before he boarded the flight from Amsterdam which he allegedly tried to blow up with explosives concealed in his underwear. His attempt was foiled by passengers.

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