Friday, January 1, 2010

Bomber's Last Phone Call to His Father

The accused "underwear bomber" made a dramatic final call to his father that he found so alarming, the father approached Nigerian officials who took him directly to the CIA's station chief in the Nigerian capital, sources told ABC News.

Current and former officials of the Nigerian government, including a source close to the suspect's family, say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, called his father from Yemen with the warning that it would be his last contact.

It has previously been reported that the man's father, prominent Nigerian banker Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, went to Nigerian and American officials Nov. 19 to warn them that his son had been radicalized by Islamic militants in Yemen.

Details have emerged about Abdulmutallab's final phone call that highlight President Obama's statement that there were "systemic failures" of the country's security system.

ABC News' sources said that during Abdulmutallab's final call, he told his father the call would be his last contact with the family. He said that the people he was with in Yemen were about to destroy his SIM card, rendering his phone unusable.

A senior U.S. official briefed on the matter tells ABC News that the phone call prompted the father to contact Nigerian intelligence, fearing that his son might be planning a suicide mission in Yemen. The Nigerian officials brought Mutallab directly to the CIA station chief in Abuja Nov. 19.

The next day the embassy sent out a thin report to U.S. embassies around the world warning Adbulmutallab may be associating with extremists in Yemen.

The CIA official compiled two more robust reports following the meeting with the suspect's father. One was sent back to CIA's Langley, Va., the other remained in draft form in Nigeria and was not circulated until after the attempted attack on Christmas Day, according to a U.S. official.

In what has been seen as a possible failure to stop the bomber from boarding a U.S.-bound plane, the alert prompted counterterrorism officials to put Abdulmutallab's name into a database of more than half a million others that the U.S. suspects of ties to terrorism, but they did not put him on the country's no-fly list. The information also was not shared with Yemeni intelligence officials, the Yemen government has said.

The president was expected to receive preliminary reviews on the security failure today. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly indicated details of the review would not be released.

He said, however, "Details of embassy Abuja's meeting with Abdulmutallab's father are of the review, and we are not in a position to comment on it at this time."

Abdulmutallab told federal officials after his capture that he spent a month at the home of an al Qaeda official in Yemen while he was trained for jihad, officials have told ABC News.

He left Yemen Dec. 7 and weeks later was aboard a Northwest Airlines flight that stopped in Amsterdam and then continued on to Detroit.

More at ABC

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