Nigerian terror attack suspect: a life of privilege and elite schools
Nigerian terror attack suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attended a British school in West Africa and then studied in London. He had been estranged from his family before the attack.
As a member of an upper-crust Nigerian family, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab received the best schooling, from the elite British International School in West Africa to the vaunted University College London.Skip to next paragraph
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But the education he wanted was of a different sort: Nigerian officials say his interest in extremist Islam prompted his father to warn US authorities. As Mr. Abdulmutallab was being escorted in handcuffs off the Detroit-bound airliner he attempted to blow up on Christmas Day, he told US officials that he had sought an extremist education at an Islamist hotbed in Yemen.
A portrait emerged Sunday of a serious young man who led a privileged life as the son of a prominent banker, but became estranged from his family as an adult. Devoutly religious, he was nicknamed "The pope" for his saintly aura and gave few clues in his youth that he would turn radical, friends and family said.
"In all the time I taught him, we never had cross words," said Michael Rimmer, a Briton who taught history at the British International School in Lome, Togo. "Somewhere along the line, he must have met some sort of fanatics, and they must have turned his mind."
Abdulmutallab has been charged with trying to destroy a Northwest flight on Christmas Day with 278 passengers and 11 crew members on board. The detonator on his explosive apparently malfunctioned and he was subdued by other passengers.
Through an official, Abdulmutallab's father "expressed deep shock and regret over his son's actions."
His family home sits in the city of Funtua, in the heart of Nigeria's Islamic culture. Religion figured into the family's life: His father, Alhaji Umar Mutallab, who had a successful career in commercial banking, also joined the board of an Islamic bank — one that avoids the kind of interest payments banned by the Koran.
The large house, surrounded by a wall and a metal fence just off the main road running through the city, stood empty, a common occurrence for a jet-set family that sought an education abroad for Abdulmutallab. Family members told The Associated Press they could not comment but expected the family to issue a statement.