Son of prominent father was pious rather than studious

This ABC article, linked in a previous entry, has more information about Abdul Mutallab’s background. I’ve abridged it.

Bomb Suspect’s Teacher, Family Dismayed, Shocked
Airline bomb suspect’s former teacher describes nice, religious pupil; father expresses shock
LAGOS, Nigeria December 27, 2009 (AP)

As a member of an uppercrust Nigerian family, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab received the best schooling, from the elite British International School in West Africa to the vaunted University College London.

But the education he sought was of a different sort: Nigerian officials say his interest in extremist Islam prompted his father to warn U.S. authorities. As Abdulmutallab was being escorted in handcuffs off the Detroit-bound airliner he attempted to blow up on Christmas Day, he told U.S. officials that he had sought extremist education at an Islamist hotbed in Yemen.

Friends and family expressed shock Sunday that the 23-year-old they described as friendly, respected and strongly religious would attempt to kill more than 300 people in what he claimed was an al-Qaida-supported plot….

… Nigerian Information Minister Dora Akunyili said Abdulmutallab had sneaked into his own country to catch the flight that would take him to Amsterdam and Detroit. She did not elaborate on how he entered the country.

He was only in Nigeria for one day, she said. Nigerian media reports say Abdulmutallab was estranged from his family. He had been living overseas for some time, Akunyili said, but she didn’t say where.

“The father, Alhaji Umar Mutallab, who is a responsible and respected Nigerian, with a true Nigerian spirit, had earlier reported his concern about his son’s activities to relevant American authorities,” she said. “The father has already expressed deep shock and regret over his son’s actions.” …

“At one stage, his nickname was ‘The Pope,’” said Michael Rimmer, a Briton who taught history at the British International School in Lome, Togo. “In one way it’s totally unsuitable because he’s Muslim, but he did have this saintly aura.

But Abdulmutallab also showed signs of inflexibility, Rimmer said.

In a discussion in 2001, Abdulmutallab was the only one to defend the actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Rimmer said. At the time, Rimmer thought the boy was just playing the devil’s advocate.

He also noted that during a school trip to London, Abdulmutallab became upset when the teacher took students to a pub and said it wasn’t right to be in a place where alcohol was being served.

Rimmer also remembered youngster choosing to give 50 pounds to an orphanage rather than spend it on souvenirs in London.

“In all the time I taught him we never had cross words,” Rimmer said from London in a telephone interview. “Somewhere along the line he must have met some sort of fanatics, and they must have turned his mind.”

Rimmer described the institution—an elite college preparatory school, attended by children of diplomats and wealthy Africans—as “lovely, lovely environment” where Christians often joined in Islamic feasts and where some of the best Christmas carolers were Muslims….

Students at his prestigious university in London, where Abdulmutallab lived in a smart white stone apartment block in an exclusive area of central London, said Abdulmutallab showed no signs of radicalization and painted him as a lax student with deep religious views.

“We worked on projects together,” Fabrizio Cavallo Marincola, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student at University College, told The Independent newspaper. “He always did the bare minimum of work and would just show up to classes. When we were studying, he always would go off to pray.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 27, 2009 01:37 PM | Send

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