As the White House continues to reveal findings from an investigation of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airplane flight Dec. 25, experts familiar with terrorism say several things don’t add up.
In exclusive interviews with BET.com, a spokesman for the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a renowned crime-prevention specialist both say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab makes a peculiar subject in the latest anti-American attack.
Abdulmutallab, 23, awaits a federal trial after he accidentally set himself on fire while trying to set off explosive powder aboard a plane to Michigan Christmas Day. But the way the failed bombing was carried out leaves questions that have not been answered, says Donald Dawkins, special agent over public affairs for the Detroit ATF.
“He was very young, nervous,” says Dawkins, who observed parts of Abdulmutallab’s interrogation after his arrest. “He was pretty cooperative, but there are still some things that need to be vetted.”
It’s unusual that the suspect appeared to act alone, Dawkins says, and that, so far, the investigation has shown that no one else on the flight appeared to help carry out the plot, reportedly sponsored by al-Qaeda.
“I think this guy was just so inexperienced in this. He was nervous and excited, all at the same,” adds Dawkins.
Inexperience is all the more reason that Abdulmutallab’s status as a solo terrorist is suspicious, says Commander Dale Brown, founder of the Threat Management Center. A privately operated anti-crime organization, Threat Management specializes in preventing terrorism and other forms of predatory crime.
“What if he got on the plane and passed out?” Brown asks. “What if something had gone wrong and he never made it on the plane? Terrorists never act alone. But here you had a guy who was supposedly all by himself with all the evidence on him. That would be like a drug dealer rolling around in a nice car with rims, registered in his name, with a real license plate – and cocaine in the back.”
Another factor that Brown and Dawkins question, along with others in highly Middle-Eastern-populated metro Detroit, is the location. Why was a plot hatched to terrorize an area where al-Qaeda might logically work to recruit Islamic extremists like Abdulmutallab? Metro Detroit, including Dearbron, has the highest Arab population of anywhere outside the Middle East.
“Everybody knows the population of Detroit, Michigan, and Dearborn (Michigan), especially,” Dawkins adds. “We feel that he got on a Delta flight, and this was just one of the stops. I think the plan was just to get a flight to the U.S., but we don’t know how much of plot was left up to him after he got on the plane.”
Dawkins says Abulmutallab appears to have been forthcoming with most information: “The things he’s told us that we could check out, they turned out to be correct.”
Brown, however, says that the questions raised by Abdulmutallab’s sloppiness and other aspects may point to something other than a conspiracy motivated solely by anti-American sentiment.
“Terrorists aren’t animals. They’re not stupid,” Brown says. “If there’s money involved in any aspect of the investigation, I’d follow the money.