(GIN) - The family of a young Nigerian traveler who allegedly attempted to detonate a powerful explosive while traveling to Detroit from Amsterdam, has issued a statement that provides more details of the alleged conversion of their son to extremist beliefs.
The statement was prepared by the suspect's father, Dr. Alhaji Umaru AbdulMutallab, a banker and a member of Nigeria's powerful ruling elite. He had been identified early in the course of the near-disaster by a Nigerian website. According to the story as it first appeared on SaharaReporters.com, an anti-corruption website produced by Nigerians, Dr. AbdulMutallab said he had warned U.S. embassy officials of his son's possible links to an al Qaeda organization that grew out of a visit to Yemen and his studies in London.
Although his son, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, was added to the terrorist watch list, he was not denied boarding privileges on the Amsterdam-Chicago Northwest Air flight. He reportedly paid cash for a one-way ticket and was allowed to board.
But shortly before arrival, Umar Farouk attempted to ignite a fire which would have set off explosives he was carrying in his underwear. It is believed these explosives were strong enough to blow a hole in the plane's fuselage. At the sound and smoke from the fire being ignited, Umar Farouk was wrestled down by passengers and attendants who successfully doused the flame.
The first official response by the Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, was that "the system worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past few days," but she retracted that assessment and now admits that there were failures with airline security.
As to the al-Qaeda connection, as late as last August, experts said they were unable to find evidence of Osama Bin Laden's group in Nigeria, despite several arrests by the government and two warnings from the US about potential attacks on its interests in the country in as many years.
Analysts remain skeptical about any link between Nigerian radical Muslims and global jihadists.
Today Dr. AbdulMutallab released the following letter:
"Our family, like the rest of the world, were woken up in the early hours of Saturday, 26th December, 2009 to the news of an attempt to blow up a plane by a young Nigerian man, who was later identified as Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab. Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab is the son of Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru AbdulMutallab, the head of this Family.
"Prior to this incident, his father, having become concerned about his disappearance and stoppage of communication while schooling abroad, reported the matter to the Nigerian security agencies about two months ago, and to some foreign security agencies about a month and a half ago, then sought their assistance to find and return him home.
"We provided them with all the information required of us to enable them do this. We were hopeful that they would find and return him home. It was while we were waiting for the outcome of their investigation that we arose to the shocking news of that day."
The disappearance and cessation of communication which got his mother and father concerned to report to the security agencies are completely out of character and a very recent development, as before then, from very early childhood, Farouk, to the best of parental monitoring, had never shown any attitude, conduct or association that would give concern. As soon as concern arose, very recently, his parents, reported it and sought help.
"The family will continue to fully cooperate with local and international security agencies towards the investigation of this matter, while we await results of the full investigation. We, along with the whole world, are thankful to Al-Mighty God that there were no lives lost in the incident. May God continue to protect us all, amen."
Finally, as the matter is being investigated by the various agencies, and has already been mentioned in a US court, the family requests that the press should regard this as the only statement it will make for now.