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'Farouk1986': what Christmas bombing suspect wrote online

Online posts by 'Farouk1986,' thought to be the Christmas Day bombing suspect, suggest a student preoccupied by university admissions and English soccer clubs, but who was also apparently lonely and conflicted.

By Tracey D. SamuelsonCorrespondent / December 29, 2009



Posts on an online Islamic community forum may offer new insights on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Northwestern flight as it prepared to land in Detroit on Christmas day.

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Mr. Abdulmutallab is believed to have posted hundreds of messages on the Islamic Forum website, www.gawahar.com, under the handle “farouk1986,” on topics ranging from European soccer leagues to being lonely.

“When I first came here, I thought I was the only lonely soul,” Farouk1986 wrote on Jan. 29, 2005.

“But after, I realized that almost every good Muslim gets lonely at some point,” he continues. “This I believe is because really there are many Muslims but most are just Muslims by name who do not practice the deen earnestly, leaving the few good Muslims alone. So it’s a test we have to strive and go through for the sake of Allah.”

The Washington Post reports that many of Farouk1986's personal details appear to match up with the Detroit bombing suspect.

Other posts from the same period are more carefree and reflect the common concerns of his peers. Farouk1986 wrote passionately about English soccer teams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Like many young adults, he was concerned with preparing for university studies. He said he hoped to study engineering at Stanford University in California, and that he believed he had the grades – straight As – to gain admission. He was less pleased with his SAT scores, but thought they would be good enough.

“I tried the SAT. It was a disaster!!!” he wrote in 2005. “I didn't practice well and I got 1200. Although I checked the prospectuses, and my SAT grades are in bound with the accepted grade boundary in Caltech, Stanford and Berkeley, so I didn't bother doing more SAT tests.”

Farouk1986 also mentioned that he wouldn’t need a scholarship to attend university, perhaps a reference to his family’s wealth. Abdulmutallab’s father is a wealthy Nigerian banker, who alerted US authorities to his son’s increasingly militant views.

Farouk1986 also responded to others’ posts to offer advice on topics ranging from soccer stadiums to traveling to the Egyptian pyramids. To a fellow student thinking about changing his course of study, he wrote: “I don’t know exactly the situation, but the last thing you want to do is start business information systems and find it hard as well or realize you don’t like it.”

An anonymous user who identified himself as simply Farouk posted in the counseling section of the forum’s website, though there’s no way of knowing if this is the same person as “farouk1986.” One undated posting by this Farouk reads: “I won’t go into too much details about me [sic] fantasy, but basically they are jihad fantasies [sic]. I imagine how the great jihad will take place, how the Muslims will win insha Allah and rule the whole world, and establish the greatest empire once again!!!”

When asked by another user if they are “fantastical dreams” or plans, Farouk replied: “I don't know about you but for me, I believe insha Allah I will realize my goals and dreams, by the power and might of Allah, out of his mercy, if it is best. … You just pray for me Okay. Pray for me hard.”

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