Sunday, January 03, 2010
Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab; unanswered questions
It has now been established that the Yemeni government refused Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru Mutallab visa to go in search of his wayward son and return him home to Nigeria, severally. It was consequent to this that Dr. Mutallab decided to contact the US Embassy in Abuja and Nigeria's security outfits. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was pursuing a post graduate degree in the United Arab Emirates visited Yemen to participate in a short course in Arabic studies with the permission of his parents but later wrote to them saying he would like to embark on another five year study programme in Yemen.
The elder Mutallab refused to grant his son’s request and insisted he should return to Dubai or UAE to complete his masters degree programme threatening to cut off funding if he refused. Farouk retorted that cutting off funding would not deter him from pursuing the said studies. Thereafter, Farouk disabled his telephone lines both in Dubai and Yemen after informing his family that would be the last time they would be hearing from him.
We have also learnt that the security community in Nigeria failed to share information as it related to the Abdulmutallab affair. The State Security Service blamed the Nigerian Intellingence Agency for failing to share key information two months ago about Umar Abdulfarouk Abdulmutallab. Two senior DSS officials confirmed that the agency Mr Abdulmutallab Snr. briefed was the NIA. They went on to claim that although their agency was responsible for maintaining airport "watch-lists" of people under suspicion, the NIA had not shared the father's information with them.
It has also emerged that the US gave Nigeria four full-body scanners for deployment to the country’s international airports as a deterrent against explosives and drugs, but none were used on Abdulmutallab when he boarded the Detroit-bound flight, officials working for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency confirmed. It was learnt that even though the full-body scanners have been in the country, they were not put to use due to cultural and privacy concerns.
However, even word of the scanners’ presence in Nigeria's four main airports apparently hasn't reached top officials, including those responsible for airline safety. Harold Demuren, the head of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, told reporters on Wednesday that his government would buy 3-D full-body scanners for the airports, and insisted there were currently none there. But Thursday, Ofoyeju Mitchell of NDLEA, told the AP that one of the machines sits in a room near the security checkpoint at the Lagos international airport. He said they are not used on all passengers, instead, drug agents select frequent flyers, travellers heading to and from drug shipment points, and people who seem deceptive or under stress.
“The frequency of checks is determined by the risk level of our assessment ... (and) reasonable cause for suspicion,” Mitchell said.
Such limited use would not be what the US State Department intended when it gave Nigeria the scanners. According to an April 30, 2009, US State Department report, the scanners were installed in March, May and June of 2008 ''to detect explosives and drugs on passengers.''
The question remains why did all these security agencies fail? The Nigerian security failure copycats the US security failure in which, strangely also, crucial information was not shared between their communities. Why did the FBI initially deny the arrest of a second individual at Detroit airport? Why is Abdulmutallab being charged for the lesser crime of trying to cause damage to an airliner instead of terrorism? Why was he not placed on the no-fly list especially after strong complaints to Nigeria's CIA chief of station about Farouk's extremist tendencies? Why is the US administration still insisting Abdulmutallab was travelling with a valid passport?
What was Farouk's state of mind upon arriving Detroit, especially considering that eye witness accounts claimed he looked dazed and terrified and that he was on fire yet kept perfectly still? Who was the Indian looking man with him at Schipol airport? Why did Yemen refuse his father a visa to travel to Yemen especially as one of his wives is a Yemeni citizen and he must have visited several times prior to the said incident? Was Mutallab travelling with an Italian passport, if he was, why would the Indian looking guy claim he was Sudanese and had no travelling documents? Was this passport found on his person and was it stamped at Schipol airport, Ghana or Nigeria? Finally, how is it possible for anybody to fly into America without travelling documents, under whatever pretext, without confirming clearance from the local US Embassy?~Egoigwe.