The Nigerian who has been charged over a botched Christmas Day bomb attack on-board a US airliner had met with the radical US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, a top Yemeni official said today. "The Nigerian hid in Shabwa area in Wadi Rafadh (east of Sana'a) where he met Awlaqi and Mohammad Omair who was killed in the air raid on Wadi Rafadh," said the deputy prime minister for defence and security affairs, Rashad al-Aleemi. He was referring to a December 24 raid carried out by Yemeni jets at Wadi Rafadh, in Shabwa province, about 650 kilometres east of the capital Sana'a, in which 34 suspected al Qa'eda militants were killed, according to Yemeni officials.
Mr Aleemi added that based on investigations, the explosives found on the 23-year-old alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, came from Nigeria and not from Yemen as previously reported. Abdulmutallab was yesterday indicted on six counts arising out of the botched Christmas Day plot to blow up a Northwest airliner packed with 279 passengers and 11 crew as it approached Detroit, Michigan. The United States has accused the al Qa'eda branch in Yemen of training Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Northwest Airline flight before it landed in Detroit, but was overpowered by passengers. Yemeni authorities said yesterday they are probing how Abdulmutallab managed to leave Yemen despite overstaying his visa.
Abdulmatallab disappeared inside Yemen from the day his permit to stay expired on September 24 until he flew out from the capital on December 7, an official said. "Authorities are investigating with police officers at the airport to find out how he managed to leave the country although his permit to stay had expired," he said. The United States has accused Mr Awlaqi of instigating "terrorism" and has said he had links with the man suspected of shooting dead 13 people at a Texas military base in November, Major Nidal Hasan. * AFP