December 26, 2009

Flight 253: AP Scrubs ‘M-Word,’ Potential Relevance of ‘Nigerian Taliban,’ Suspect’s Reference to Afghanistan (UPDATE: Son of Prominent Nigerian Banker?)

2009-12-25NYTNWA253It has been interesting watching the Associated Press reports on the attempted takedown of Flight 253 devolve in the past 12-plus hours.

In its 8:56 a.m. report (likely dynamic and subject to change), it looks like the assemblage of AP writers who worked on the story have succeeded in:

  • As Mark Finkelstein at NewsBusters noted earlier this morning in the case of the New York Times, ridding the report of the M-word (“Muslim”).
  • Minimizing to nearly zero the possible relevance of the suspect’s home country of residence and of the possibility that he might be affiliated with what one publication refers to as the “Nigerian Taliban.”

The wire service’s 11:04 p.m. report (not linked, as original was revised by AP), had this to say about the relevance of Nigeria in its 23rd paragraph of 26:


At least it has the M-word, and at least it seems to imply that Nigeria might have some current AQ activity.

That verbiage remained but went to the second-last paragraph of the 3:07 a.m. version of the report (linked, but may change), and disappeared without replacement from the 3:54 a.m. dispatch. The 8:56 a.m. report also has no text discussing circumstances in Nigeria, and has been purged of the M-word.

Kaney Obaji Ori at lays out the relevance in the final four paragraphs of his update on the incident (internal link added by me; bolds are mine):

The Nigerian Diaspora have meanwhile expressed disappointment and concern over the susceptibility of al-Qaeda sleeper cells amongst predominantly Northern Muslim Nigerians. The Nigerian Taliban known as Boko Haram, an anti-western extremist Muslim group that sprung up in Northern Nigeria in July and threatened state civility in Nigeria were armed with machetes, knives, home-made hunting rifles and petrol bombs.

The group went on rampage in several states across Northern Nigeria, attacking churches, police stations, prisons and government buildings, and demanding sharia law for all Nigeria as opposed to democratic western-styled education and ideals.

After the sects uprising in northern Nigeria, many beheaded bodies were found in the sect’s headquarters, including at least three Christian preachers and the second in command of the military operation. Hundreds of sect members were also killed by Nigerian security forces in a major clampdown to dismantle the sect. Over 700 deaths related to the violence was (sic) reported.

The presence of an al-Qaeda branch operating across the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, Morocco, Mali and Niger and Nigeria’s porous borders was confirmed when a report submitted to top government officials in 2007 had identified and classified the Boko Haram sect as a “murderous religious group” that had been train by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. State Security Service of Nigeria stated that “the group was linked to Al Qaeda through some of its members including Barah Abdul and Mohamed Al-Amin who were in Afghanistan and have strong links with some Al Qaeda leaders”.

After the July violence, during which Boko Haram leader Mallam Mohammed Yusuf was killed, the group declared total jihad (HT Jihad Watch):

The Islamic sect Boko Haram has declared total Jihad in Nigeria, threatening to Islamise the entire nation by force of war.

In a statement dated August 9, 2009, …. the sect whose activities led to the lost of hundreds of lives in northern Nigeria recently declared that their leader Yusuf who was killed in controversial circumstances during the crisis, lives forever.

In what looked like a declaration of war on the rest of the nation, the Boko Haram sect said it will unleash terror in Southern Nigeria this August, beginning with the bombing of Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu to make good its words.

The group’s statement also says that “We support Osama bin Laden, we shall carry out his command in Nigeria until the country is totally Islamised which is according to the wish of Allah.”

AP also couldn’t find space in its 1,100-word report to tell us that many passengers claimed to have heard the suspect “screaming about Afghanistan” during the ordeal. Uh, don’t Afghanistan’s extremists also call themselves “the Taliban”?

Cross-posted at


UPDATE: I saw information about this gentleman last night, but thought it too coincidental to speculate over.

Well, it turns out that he might be the suspect’s father (HT Powerline) —

In Nigeria, a prominent banker said Saturday that he was meeting with security officials there because he feared his son was the suspect. Alhaji Umaru Mutallab told The Associated Press said his son was a one-time university student in London who had left Britain to travel abroad.

If so, that sort of refutes the “poor, desperate, exploited, angry Muslim” angle. Related: Michelle Malkin — “The Myth of the Poor, Oppressed Jihadist”

UPDATE 2, 5 p.m.: Plot thickening, via ABC

The device intended to blow up the Northwest flight was made at the location in Yemen, according to Abdulmutallab, and consisted of a six-inch packet of powder and a syringe with a liquid. Both were sewn into the student’s underwear so they would be near his testicles and unlikely to be detected, he told agents.

…. Published reports in Nigeria said Abdulmutallab’s father had contacted the U.S. embassy six months ago about concerns his son had become radicalized and could pose a threat to the U.S. One report said the father could not understand why his son was allowed to board a flight to the U.S. given his warning.

Well, I guess that pretty much answers the terror affiliation question. Given that the father’s contact was in June, it also means it’s not Bush 43′s fault.



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    Pingback by BizzyBlog | Drakz News Station — December 26, 2009 @ 3:01 pm

  2. This is really serious matter for Nigeria. Nigeria economy is emerging and business from other countries are taking interest in the products of Nigeria, such things can also disturb number of flights to Nigeria.

    Comment by flight to Nigeria — December 26, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

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