x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

College gives Dubai police a list of bomb suspect's classmates

Officials at Wollongong University branch hope to show no link between man arrested over Detroit attack and other students

DUBAI // The university attended by a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a jetliner en route to the US has handed over a list of his former classmates to the local authorities. Raymi van der Spek, the vice president of Wollongong University, told The National yesterday that details about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and students who had taken classes with him were submitted to the Dubai police.

Mr Abdulmutallab, 23, enrolled in January at the university, a satellite of its parent campus in Australia, but left in July before completing a degree. Mr van der Spek said the university included what information it had "about the particular student in question, the programme he was in, the classes that he attended, and everybody in those classes". The Dubai police had not begun interviewing students at the university, he said, adding that the police said they would go through school officials to conduct interviews.

By sharing student data, he said, the university hoped it would help prove there was no connection between Mr Abdulmutallab and his fellow students. "I think that would be the universal desire on the part of the entire country and region," he said. Mr Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to detonate a concealed incendiary device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day. He was reportedly studying for a masters degree at Wollongong, though officials at the university declined to discuss his studies or his extracurricular activities.

Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim, the Dubai police chief, said Mr Abdulmutallab was not under surveillance while living in Dubai. "There was no reason to be suspicious of this man during his stay in Dubai, and we do not put people under surveillance for no reason," he said. Mr Abdulmutallab, who obtained a student visa from Dubai authorities late last year or in early January, had enrolled for the autumn 2009 term, Mr van der Spek said. But he left the university in late July, after declaring his intent to move out of student housing and into a villa at Ewan Residence in the Dubai Investment Park.

Before moving to Dubai sometime during his six-month stay, Mr van der Spek said Mr Abdulmutallab had been living in the university's accommodations in Ajman. When he failed to pay his fees for the autumn term, Mr van der Spek said the university considered him "un-enrolled". hnaylor@thenational.ae wissa@thenational.ae