Father of accused Nigerian terrorist said to be ‘flabbergasted, but not surprised’ — CBSNews KHOU Channel 11 Houston interviews USAfrica Publisher Chido Nwangwu
By Alex Sanz / Channel 11 News. Posted on December 27, 2009 at 2:58 PM
video here: http://www.khou.com/news/national/Family-friend-Father-of-accused-terrorist-flabbergasted-but-not-surprised-80149957.html
HOUSTON — A prominent, Nigerian-born Houstonian, who’s been in touch with close
Abdulmootallab, the 23-year-old son of a prominent Nigerian banker, is charged with trying to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day as it was preparing to land in Detroit. He lived until recently in a swanky family apartment in West London, where he moved to in 2005 to study engineering.
Close family friends tell Nwangwu that the key to unraveling Abdulmootallab’s alleged action’s may be in Yemen, a country on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, where al-Qaida has increasingly found safe haven.
“There is a Yemeni member of their family, and this is important,” said Nwangwu. “He’s a young man who is tended more to his religion. He’s also a social — a sociable — individual. Having of course the family networks that move close into Yemen, it’s a fairly interesting, but combustible mix. Sons of wealthy persons sometimes engage in extremist activities. At some point influences that were extraordinary impacted him.”
Abdulmootallab’s father, Alhaji Abdulmootallab, spent the past decade as chair of Nigeria’s First Bank, and is among Nigeria’s wealthiest families. It now appears Abdulmootallab was aware of his son’s extremist views and had shared his concerns with U.S. officials as recently as last month.
“Some of his friends that I spoke with this morning in Nigeria said he’s flabergasted and, um, I’ll say not entirely too surprised,” said Nwangwu. “That is he’s not being too surprised knowing that his son was engaged, or at least spoke to terms of zealotry, terms of extremism and potentially the consequences, I imagine, as we know them today.”
Still under investigation are the circumstances surrounding Umar Abdulmootallab’s recent visit to Houston. Sources tell 11News FBI agents were sent to a northwest Houston Sheraton hours after Northwest Airlines Flight 253 landed in Detroit. Abdulmootallahb has claimed connections to al-Qaida. It’s not known how solid those connections are — or if he acted alone.
“I am very concerned [and] worried that if this can happen [to his] family it can happen to most other Nigerians who are well-placed,” said Chido Nwangwu, publisher of Houston-based USAfrica, the largest African-owned newspapers in the United States.