Thursday, January 7

Nigerian "Pantie Bomber" Joined Al Qaeda in London and met radical American Muslim cleric in Yemen

"The information provided to us is that Umar Farouk (Abdulmutallab) joined Al Qaeda in London," according to Rashad al-Alimi, Yemen's Deputy Prime Minister for Defence and Security.

Once again the London based Al Qaeda group is involved.

There is a bright side to this.

Abdulmutallab had apparently met with the extremest Muslim preacher Anwar al-Awlaki during his time in Yemen. al-Awlaki was once considered to be untouchable by the authorities. The US born Anwar al-Awlaki met the man accused of the attempted Christmas Day flight 253 bombing. This alters the game for al-Alaki, and tonight he appears to be a target for arrest.

A Yemeni security official has said Awlaki was believed to have later died in a strike on Al Qaeda militants last month.

Rashad al-Alimi told reporters today that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who tried to detonate explosives aboard an airliner over Detroit, had gone to Anwar al-Awlaki's home during a trip to Yemen late last year.

Abdulmutallab arrived in Yemen in late August of 2009 on a student visa and was last seen on September 21st. Abdulmutallab went "missing" for 11 weeks. During that 11 week period al-Amini confirmed that Abdulmutallab met al-Qaida leaders at a farmhouse in Rafad, in Yemen's remote eastern province of Shabwa.

This same farm house was the target of an air strike on December 24th of 2009, just a day before the attempt on flight 253. Yemeni security sources initially claimed to have killed Awlaki in the strike.

According to information from a journalist and family friend of Awlaki Awlaki is "alive and well" having left the farm just hours before the air strike.

This is the same cleric who had contact with Nidal Hassan, the US army psychiatrist who killed 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood back in November.

Last month it emerged that Hassan's first email to Awlaki was sent on December 17th of 2008 and was intercepted by the FBI, who failed to stop Hassan before the killings took place, 11 months later.

The Yemeni reluctance to move against radical Islamist extremists in Yemen raises several fundamental issues with Yemen and it's ruling government. How far can they be trusted and how deep is there relationship with al-Qaida?

While the Yemeni government runs a programme to "re-educate" Islamist militants away from violence, US officials have stated that graduates of the program have been captured in Iraq fighting against the US led forces.

Judge Hamoud Hitar, the Islamic scholar who leads the program said: "As long as the US army and British army are conquering them, Muslims have the right to fight and defend their lands and themselves. The jihad is a part of our religion."

Obama stated this week that he will suspend the repatriation of any Yemeni prisoners held at Guantanamo bay. Nearly half of the remaining 198 inmates at GitMo are from Yemen.

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