Bomber's Hometown Blames UK Schooling Not Islam For His Radicalism
He was such a sweet boy.
Undated family photograph of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged in the United States with attempting to blow up an aircraft over Detroit on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab had been placed on a UK watchlist and barred from entering Britain earlier this year, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said. (AFP)
For residents in his home town, it was Umar Abdulmutallab’s foreign education, not his roots in Muslim northern Nigeria, that radicalized him and led him to try to blow up a U.S. passenger plane.
The 23-year-old London-educated Nigerian was charged on Saturday in the United States with trying to blow up Northwest Airlines flight 253 as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam on Christmas Day with almost 300 people on board.
The son of a highly respected banker, Abdulmutallab’s actions shocked Nigeria’s wealthy elite and residents in his family’s predominantly Muslim northern hometown of Funtua.
“Everyone knew the Mutallabs and the father is honest, generous, helpful and above all a prominent banker. I cannot see why his son should be involved in this act,” Funtua resident Ibrahim Bello, 65, said, close to the Mutallab family home.
Like other elders from the community, Bello said Abdulmutallab’s schooling abroad meant he had been brought up outside the customs of northern Nigeria, a region with a history of moderate Sufi Islam.
“My only advice to the elite is to allow their children to mingle with the children of the masses so that he will have some of the traditional morals and values that (the elder) Mutallab himself enjoyed,” Bello told Reuters.
Behind him, a group of elderly men were listening to the local Hausa language services of the BBC and Voice of America radio stations, eager to hear the latest developments.
His Nigerian friends say he was a kind and gentle boy.
The Nigerian news website This Day reported:
“The last time I saw him was four years ago in Kaduna, but I am really surprised to hear that he wanted to blow up a plane. I know he used to be religious, but I never imagined he would have the nerves to kill someone.
May be the school he went transformed him, I don’t know, but he was a good boy and his father was a good man,” the 34-year-old Hamza said in Hausa language. Residents of Funtua, the sleepy Katsina State home town of Abdulmutallab, have expressed shock over attempted bombing reports.
Those who spoke with THISDAY yesterday said the reports were not only disturbing, but capable of destroying the good reputation of the father in the community. The attempted bomber was described by neighbours as gentle, nice and one who takes his studies seriously.