Why Has the Government Story about Who Ordered the UndieBomber to Attack the US Changed?

The government has told two or three slightly different stories about who directed and inspired Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s UndieBomber plot. The stories are all reconcilable (I’m not suggesting nefarious intent). But the differences in the three stories are worth noting, not least because the government killed Anwar al-Awlaki based on a claim he was the director of external operations of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, reportedly based in significant part on a claim that he directed Abdulmutallab’s plot.

In October, prosecutor Jonathan Tukel said that an Al Qaeda member with whom Abdulmutallab stayed in Sana, Yemen named Abu Tarak ordered the UndieBomber to attack a US airline over US airspace. Today, they say Awlaki gave that order. [See update below for what I think is an explanation.]

Update: There’s a totally different explanation. Abu Tarak is an alias for Awlaki. Thus, while Abdulmutallab seemed to be hiding Awlaki’s identity in that first interrogation, that initial story is consistent with his later story (which is presumably why the government was happy just using the initial interrogation).

Al-Awlaki had significant influence–but so did Abu-Tarak and others

The most balanced of the three stories submitted by the government came in a memo, released today, from an expert on martyrdom, Dr. Simon Perry, basically laying out why Abdulmutallab, who hoped for martyrdom, is so dangerous (I’ll leave to others to assess the validity of Perry’s science; it’s not relevant to this post).

In a section describing who inspired Abdulmutallab to extremism, Perry makes the central inspirational importance of Anwar al-Awlaki to Abdulmutallab clear–going back to 2005–but describes the following as other influences:

  • Fundamentalist Islamists
  • Abu Tarak and three other visitors who visited daily while Abdulmutallab stayed with Abu Tarak in Sana leading up to his attack
  • Uthmann (?)
  • A Jihadist who preached in England
  • Other fighters in Yemen
  • A man from Al Qaeda he met in Yemen

Here’s the passage. (Note, Perry uses the acronym UFAM for Abdulmutallab; I’ve taken out the footnotes here for ease of reading, but they’re all to interrogations between Christmas 2009 to February 5, 2010.)

Manipulated by fundamentalists, such as Aulaqi and his internet lectures, UFAM claims that the main motivation for conducting the martyrdom mission included his interpretation of Koranic verses and his regularly attendance at prayers, where he met and interacted with Fundamentalist Islamists. UFAM was familiar with all of Aulaqi’s lectures, and they were an important motivator which led UFAM to decide to participate in Jihad. He began listening to the lectures in 2005 and reading Aulaqi’s writings, which motivated him to accept martyrdom as a possibility. Aulaqi was not the only influential fundamentalist in UFAM’s life. While residing at Abu Tarak’s residence in Sana, Yemen he was mainly confined to his residence and discouraged from any communication with the outside world (phone, email). During this period, UFAM spoke regularly with Abu Tarak and three other individuals who visited him daily, speaking with them about Jihad and martyrdom. UFAM discussed the concept of Jihad also with Uthmann who supported Mujahidin worldwide already from 2005. He was deeply influenced by a Jihadist who preached in England and elsewhere and used to meet with him intensively (as often as 3 times a week). UFAM associated with Aulaqi who frequently spoke of Jihad and interacted with other fighters, and while in Yemen, he met with a man from Al Qaeda who further deepened his conviction. [my emphasis]

Now, it’s not Perry’s job to describe the operation itself, so I’ll take nothing from his silence on who directed it. He makes it very clear Awlaki counselled Abdulmutallab on the appropriateness of martyrdom.

And Perry does say that Awlaki told Abdulmutallab he should prepare a martyrdom video in anticipation of a plane operation; Abdulmutallab made the video on December 2 or 3 (this passage is sourced to Interrogations on January 29 and February 9, 2010).

UFAM himself participated in this practice of preparing a martyrs’ video after he was told by Aulaqi that he would bring down a plane and that he should prepare a video. UFAM spent time thinking about his martyr’s video. Approximately on the 2nd or 3rd of Dec. 2009, UFAM made a martyr’s video with the help of two video technicians who brought the equipment. They brought a black flag with Islamic writing for the background as well as clothing and other props. It took them approximately 2 or 3 days to complete the video.

And the target was chosen, according to Perry, by Awlaki. But oddly, he did not source that assertion to any of Abdulmutallab’s interrogations.

He was prepared to fulfill his mission of Jihad against whatever enemy was identified by Aulaqi. UFAM did not choose the target or the mission, it was chosen for him. [Perry did not source this statement. Instead, in a footnote he points out his unsourced statement contradicted a comment Abdulmutallab made at his sentencing, in which the defendant said he was motivated by hate for the US.]

Awlaki chose the target

In the narrative released today (based, according to the government filing, on conversations of unknown date during which Abdulmutallab’s original court-appointed lawyers were trying to negotiate a plea bargain that ), Awlaki instructed Abdulmutallab to make a martyrdom video.

Awlaki told defendant that he would create a martyrdom video that would be used after the defendant’s attack. Awlaki arranged for a professional film crew to film the video. Awlaki assisted defendant in writing his martyrdom statement, and it was filmed over a period of two to three days.

Thus far, the government’s narrative matches Perry’s. But the government narrative provides more details about how Awlaki gave Abdulmutallab the final instructions about how to carry out the attack.

Although Awlaki gave defendant operational flexibility, Awlaki instructed defendant that the only requirements were that the attack be on a U.S. airliner, and that the attack take place over U.S. soil. Beyond that, Awlaki gave defendant discretion to choose the flight and date. Awlaki instructed defendant not to fly directly from Yemen to Europe, as that could attract suspicion. [my emphasis]

Abu Tarak chose the target

That’s funny, because back when prosecutors gave their opening argument on October 11, just 12 days after the government killed Awlaki in a drone strike, they told a different story. In that version, Awlaki provided the inspiration for Abdulmutallab.

So [Abdulmutallab] had the opportunity to do anything he wanted with his life. But instead he began listening to tapes of someone named Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical preacher, and he became committed to jihad, and he left graduate school and he went to Yemen. He wanted jihad and he sought it out and he found it.

That’s it–the sole mention of Awlaki in the case the government was willing to defend in court.

But a guy named Abu Tarak–the guy, according to Perry, with whom Abdulmutallab stayed in Sana, Yemen–gave Abdulmutallab the instructions.

So what else did the defendant say to the FBI? He said that he sought out and found al-Qaeda. He said that he was introduced at a mosque to someone he called Abu-Tarak, an al-Qaeda member. He told the FBI that he and Abu-Tarak spoke daily about jihad and martyrdom and supported al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. And martyrdom is, of course, a suicide operation where the person is engaged in jihad, and they carry out an operation, sometimes called suicide bombing, sometimes called martyrdom bombing, where the person intends to kill and to himself die in the act of doing it, and they usually think that they will end up in heaven as a result of doing that.

And the defendant said that he and Abu-Tarak spoke daily about ways to attack the United States. Daily.

And then in late November of 2009, remember, this interview is taking place on December 25th so he’s talking about a month or so earlier, Abu-Tarak suggested to the defendant that he become involved in a plane attack against the United States aircraft. And the defendant agreed to do that. And the plan was that the bomb would be concealed in the defendant’s underwear, and Abu-Tarak gave him training in detonating the bomb. And the way the bomb would work is that the defendant would inject liquid into a powder with a syringe and that would cause the explosion.

And Abu-Tarak told the defendant that the bomb would not be detected by airport security anywhere in the world. And he said that the bomb maker was a Saudi Arabian individual, and in fact, the defendant told the FBI that he met the bomb maker, he met the Saudi Arabian bomb maker while he was in Yemen. And Abu-Tarak told him that the plane would crash and it would kill everybody on board.

And Abu-Tarak gave him the direction.

Remember, I said there were only three parts to the plan, he had to blow up a plane, it had to be a U.S. airliner and it had to take place over U.S. soil. Abu-Tarak reported that way, make sure it’s a U.S. aircraft, make sure it takes place over the United States.

And then the defendant told the FBI that on approximately December 6 or 7 he received the bomb from Abu-Tarak in Yemen. [my emphasis]

According to the story the government told in court last October, the timeline works out this way:

Late November: Abu Tarak suggests Abdulmutallab become involved in a plane attack on the US

Before December 2-3: Awlaki instructs Abdulmutallab to make his martyrdom video

December 2-3: Abdulmutallab makes the video

December 6-7: Abu Tarak gives him the bomb and the instructions to attack a US airliner over the US

The key difference here–and it’s pretty significant given the government’s claims that Awlaki was the operational leader here–is that Abu Tarak, not Awlaki, targeted the US.

The government’s new description of Abu Tarak

And what of Abu Tarak in today’s narrative?

Well, if the story AUSA Jonathan Tukel told in his opening statement is correct–that Abdulmutallab met Abu Tarak at a mosque–then it appears Abu Tarak is this guy in the current government narrative.

Once in Yemen, defendant visited mosques and asked people he met if they knew how he could meet Awlaki. Eventually, defendant made contact with an individual who in turn made Awlaki aware of defendant’s desire to meet him. [my emphasis]

Given the story the government told back in October, it appears that Abu Tarak–who in October had the central, starring role in this plot–is now that anonymous “individual” Abdulmutallab met in a mosque who introduced Abdulmutallab to Awlaki.

Reconciliation of the three stories

Now, Abdulmutallab will have an opportunity to respond to the government’s narrative, so perhaps we’ll get some clarity then. But there are two ready explanations for the differences between these stories (though not for the government’s decision to tell different stories in different forums).

First, the story Tukel told in his opening argument was sourced entirely to what Abdulmutallab told the FBI agent on Christmas Day. So it is quite possible that Abdulmutallab initially hid the operational role of Awlaki, and only began to tell it in later interrogations.

As for the other possibility, remember that Abdulmutallab (rather, the lawyer Abdulmutallab is trying to replace, Anthony Chambers) appears to be complaining the government used statements he made during plea negotiations in his presentencing investigation and their narrative.

As detailed extensively in the Presentence Investigation Report at ¶¶ 13-24 and in the Supplemental Factual Appendix [the government narrative],2 committed to his mission, seeking out and finding Al Qaeda and Anwar Awlaki, volunteering for a martyrdom mission, and then becoming involved in planning and training for a significant amount of time.

2 Defendant states that the objected-to paragraphs contain “information obtained during plea negotiations in this matter and can not at this stage be used against him, for sentencing purposes.”

Given this complaint, the other possibility is that in a bid to get some kind of plea deal (back before he started, technically, to represent himself), Abdulmutallab implicated Awlaki more deeply in the operational aspects of the plot–the instructions to attack a US airliner over US airspace–than he had previously done, whether or not it was the truth or not.

I’m agnostic about which of these scenarios is more likely–both are completely plausible–but I would note that Abdulmutallab’s complaints that his plea negotiation conversations are now being used in his sentencing might have more to do with what he was willing to say to get a lesser sentence than what he believed to be true.

Back in October, the government was clear. “Abu-Tarak gave Abdulmutallab the direction” to hit a US airliner over US airspace.

But now, when they’re under pressure to justify killing Awlaki with no due process and trying to release the best case on that killing, their story has changed. Now, Awlaki gave that order.

Who ordered the UndieBomber to attack the US? Awlaki? Or Abu Tarak, whom they now appear to relegate to an anonymous role introducing people in a mosque?

Update: There is one more reason why the government’s story may have changed. In his memo, which is dated January 2010, Perry notes he was working from redacted memos. It may be the government has only subsequently declassified the details that pertain to Awlaki.

Update: Here’s what I think happened.

Abdulmutallab tried to suppress the statements he made at the Milan correctional facility, arguing they were made in the course of a plea bargain. The government responded by saying it would not seek to introduce those statements at trial.

The government will not seek to offer those statements at trial either, and therefore that motion should be denied as moot.

As a result, Judge Nancy Edmunds didn’t rule on whether or not these statements were protected under Kastigar (which is the reason Abdulmutallab wants them suppressed now). So when Tukel gave his statement at trial, he was, in fact, relying on that first interview. And implication of Awlaki, then, came during the period when Abdulmutallab was cooperating with the government.

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

36 replies
  1. PeasantParty says:

    Hmmm.

    Known Unknowns?

    This garbage they keep pulling out of their arses to justify everything just continues to make them appear even more insane. I have never before been so ashamed of my Government and its military. Where is the honor?

  2. PeasantParty says:

    @PeasantParty: I expect more individuals that take their Military Oaths and those not in the military but still employeed by the Federal government to take Executive Order 12674 seriously.

    The only way I see for this country to heal, become whole and worthy of the blood and money spent for these planet busting programs is to do what they have been compelled to do!

  3. MadDog says:

    EW, this is another one of your really fine pieces of work! I see from the date/time stamp of the post, you were burning the old midnight oil to plumb the depths of Perry’s work.

    I hope Charlie Savage of the NYT sees this piece of yours because it makes a strong case that there’s a big disconnect with this:

    “…By spelling out the case against Mr. Abdulmutallab, the Obama administration also went a long way toward explaining why officials decided that Mr. Awlaki, a United States citizen, had evolved from a propagandist to an “operational” terrorist. That, in turn, led to their extraordinary — and still officially unacknowledged — decision to kill Mr. Awlaki, without a trial, in a drone strike last September…”

    Bravo!

  4. MadDog says:

    As just a side note, Dr. Simon Perry’s CV at the Policing and Homeland Security Studies program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says this:

    “Co-Director of the program, holds a PhD. in Criminology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. Dr. Perry is a retired officer in the Israeli National Police (INP), who served for 30 years specializing in Intelligence – Gathering and Operations. Dr. Perry served as head of European Operations of the INP between 1987-1991 and as the INP Police Attaché to the US & Canada between 2003-2007 at the rank of Brigadier General.
    Dr. Simon Perry is currently a Professor in the Graduate School at Hebrew University’s Institute of Criminology in Jerusalem. He has extensive experience teaching and training intelligence and law enforcement agencies worldwide in the areas of “Policing Terrorism”, “Homeland Security”, “International Organized Crime” and “Drug Trafficking”…”

  5. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And another, perhaps equally revealing side note, there’s this:

    About us

    CCI- Competitive Corporate Intelligence AG is a unique company founded to provide the best available services in the field of “Competitive Intelligence” (CI) to the corporate sector. CI employs proven methods and technology developed and successfully applied by governments’ intelligence organizations. These methods have been modified and adapted into commercial implementations with an emphasis on legal and ethical intelligence gathering without employing immoral techniques of information collection. CI deals with the collection and analysis of relevant industrial information and not with industrial espionage. Our company draws on the unparalleled experience of its leading and highly experienced intelligence experts that have previously served in organizations such as the American FBI, Israeli Mossad, Israel National Police and Internal Security Organizations as well as in senior Intelligence positions in other countries…

    Dr. Simon Perry – President

    Dr. Perry is currently the Co-Director of the Program in Policing and Homeland Security Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law. He is also a Professor in the Graduate School and involved in research with colleagues in Israel and U.S.

    Dr. Perry joined the Israeli Police in 1978 and has served in a variety of positions during the past 30 years. Between 2003 and 2007 he was Police Attaché & Liaison Officer to the USA & Canada, Israeli Police & Ministry of Public Security (at rank of Brigadier General)…”

  6. PeasantParty says:

    @MadDog: Thank you very much for those two additions. In following the OWS to help live blog we ran across these special little agencies that were to teach peace officers in the US tactics on fighting terror from Isreal.

    It made heads explode with anger.

  7. Frank33 says:

    What’s the problem? Undie was under surveillance according to Patrick Kennedy, because his multimillionaire Oil Baron father reported him to be a terrorist. So where was Undie from Dec 7 to Dec 25? Going to spy school? Did he carry his bomb in his underwear for three weeks?

    Undie was approved by airport security. We do not know what passport the CIA supplied him with. Undie did not say a word, being drugged, when his CIA handler took him through security, as a Sudanese refugee. There should be airport photos at Schiphol. And there is video. The fire on Flight 253 was video recorded. Three days later, Michael Chertoff was pimping his X-ray scanners.

    Any questions, ask the CIA? And the security officials who failed never get penalized. Unless, Undie’s mission was False Flag, then it was a success.

  8. emptywheel says:

    Note this update:

    Update: Here’s what I think happened.

    Abdulmutallab tried to suppress the statements he made at the Milan correctional facility, arguing they were made in the course of a plea bargain. The government responded by saying it would not seek to introduce those statements at trial.

    The government will not seek to offer those statements at trial either, and therefore that motion should be denied as moot.

    As a result, Judge Nancy Edmunds didn’t rule on whether or not these statements were protected under Kastigar (which is the reason Abdulmutallab wants them suppressed now). So when Tukel gave his statement at trial, he was, in fact, relying on that first interview. And implication of Awlaki, then, came during the period when Abdulmutallab was cooperating with the government.

  9. PeasantParty says:

    @emptywheel: I think you have it, by George!

    I would just like to know if any representation of the two might have made note of the dismissed plea. Oh well, the heat seeking missle of terror fighters would have honed in on another trick to prevent rational discovery.

  10. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: Hmmm…I keep coming back to the possibility that you raised EW of an attempt to help the US implicate a bigger fish, and one that the US really, really desired to hook, during the course of a plea bargain to soften one’s own punishment. And yes, whether true or not.

    The disparity between the story told at trial by the US government, the story told now for sentencing, and the reported plan by the Obama Administration to have Attorney General Eric Holder tell a smidgen of the tale behind the US’s assassination of al-Awlaki, all make the above possibility even more interesting.

  11. avelna says:

    Is this perhaps a variation on the theme of trying to “persuade” Bradley Manning to turn on Julian Assange?

  12. onwatch says:

    @PeasantParty: Really? I became ashamed of my government and military on September 11, 2001, while i watched the towers flaming and while looking at the clear blue sky for any sign of a US fighter jet. A pathetic response from our ‘government’ whose First purpose is to protect us, its citizens. It has only been the last year or so that it has finally turned around.

  13. pdaly says:

    Nice sleuthing, emptywheel.

    I was trying to find the reason the plea bargain never happened (the blue words “never happened” in your post are not an active link– if you had meant them to be).

    We assume Abdulmutallab fingered Awlaki while in the Milan correctional facility? I assume this would be after Abdulmutallab thought he had received use immunity or transactional immunity (I admit I forget the difference, will await the legal eagles).

    How could the government rescind the immunity unless it caught Abdulmutallab lying?
    Obviously the government would have a vested interest in believing the lie (if it is one) that Awlaki told him to bomb the plane, because this tie was necessary for the government to go after an “operational” Awlaki.

    Curious why Abdulmatallab failed to receive a deal.

  14. pdaly says:

    I was trying to figure out the timeline for Abdulmutallab’s statements.

    Upon reading this msnbc article, I noticed after the first conversation the UndieBomber (I’m slowed down by typing his name each time) had with airport security, there was an approximately 1.5 hour pause at the hospital when (as far as is publically known) the FBI were arrived but waiting to talk to him. This seems like uncommon restraint on the part of the FBI so at first I thought this meant he was in the operating room undergoing surgery to remove his 3rd degree burns and having skin grafts/bandages applied.

    However, his surgery occurs after the 1.5 hour window. The FBI talks to him after that 1.5 hour delay and BEFORE the UndieBomber goes to a surgery and recovery that lasts several hours.

    So during that 1.5 hours pre-surgery, was some other group talking to him?
    (Or was the 1.5 hours perhaps the time the hospital staff needed to resuscitate him with IV fluids? since burn victims lose water quickly and would be in shock)

    OT: One detail about 3rd degree burns: they are usually painless, because the nerves have been burned away. The surviving tissue surrounding the 3rd degree burn (i.e., both first and second degree burns) would be painful and would require pain medication.

    Since the UndieBomber was receiving high doses of Fentanyl, it would have been to treat the pain for his first and second degree burns most likely.

  15. pdaly says:

    Also meant to comment on the roughly 2 hours of elapsed time between the “shortly after noon” arrival of the airplane at the Detroit airport and the “just before 2pm” arrival of the UndieBomber at the Univ. of Michigan Medical Center. How much time normally does it take to travel from the airport to the hospital?

  16. Frank33 says:

    @pdaly:
    Eyewitnesses say Undie was taken from the plane immediately. It was not known to be a bomb until later.

    The passengers were “sequestered” and a bomb sniffing dog got a positive. Another passenger was handcuffed and has since disappeared.

    The Spy Masters such as Hayden and Blair went public and wanted the “High Value Detainee Team” to question Undie, instead of the FBI. That is because the FBI is in the business of law enforcement, not law breaking which is the CIA business. This is part of Jamie Gorelick’s Wall which protects the CIA terrorists from law enforcement. Conceal the evidence. Blair was fired or should I say terminated with some prejudice by Michael Hayden.

    And the special CIA coverup interrogation team did not exist. I am guessing the vile and murderous Michael Hayden is the Number One Spy Chief.

  17. emptywheel says:

    OK, here’s the updated explanation for the seeming different story: They’re not different stories. Abu Tarak was an alias for Awlaki. So while Abdulmutallab was hiding (or thought he was hiding–not sure what the govt knew) Awlaki’s role at the time, he told the story from the start.

  18. bmaz says:

    @avelna: That theme is used by every law enforcement agency in the nation, and world, every day in trying to drill into, investigate and prosecute conspiracies.

  19. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: Well, apparently Awlaki’s Kunya is Abu Atiq, not Abu Tariq. So it’s not clear whether this really was an existing alias, or whether Abdulmutallab just made it up, or someone else did.

  20. Frank33 says:

    Who said,

    In April 2009, the administration made public the previously classified Justice Department memoranda analyzing the harsh techniques, thereby disclosing them to our enemies and assuring that they could never be used effectively again. Meanwhile, the administration announced its intentions to replace the CIA interrogation program with one administered by the FBI. In December 2009, Omar Faruq Abdulmutallab was caught in an airplane over Detroit trying to detonate a bomb concealed in his underwear. He was warned after apprehension of his Miranda rights, and it was later disclosed that no one had yet gotten around to implementing the new program…

    We also need to put an end to the ongoing investigations of CIA operatives that continue to undermine intelligence community morale.

    Who has been responsible for all the “intelligence failures of the last ten years? The spies. Who do the spies blame? They can blame the Justice Department. That is the lying torturers of the “intelligence community” can blame them. And the Justice Department, FBI and the Obama Administration are also to blame and are helping the terrorists.

    The DOJ RELEASED a memo about torture! And apparently the CIA had a special interrogation team already but the FBI mucked that up also. And Underwear Bomber was treated legally and the new program was not IMPLEMENTED! The Horror.

    So who is this defender of torture and our Overlord Spy Masters? Michael Mukasey, Torturer and former Attorney General.

  21. bmaz says:

    @Frank33: Other way around; the FBI had the pros running a traditional, and relatively effective, interrogation; it was the CIA who booted them and mucked it up with dirty hands.

  22. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: OK EW, spill the beans! How did you come to the conclusion that Abu Tarak is Anwar al-Awlaki?

    And why did the US government try to hide that fact in the October 11, 2011 trial of Abdulmutallab?

    This Los Angeles Time’s piece from December 31, 2009 states with some authority that the US government knew far before the trial about al-Awlaki’s involvement with Abdulmutallab:

    “U.S. counter-terrorism agencies are investigating whether an American-born Islamic cleric who has risen to become a key figure in the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen played a role in the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing over Detroit, intelligence and law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

    Intercepts and other information point to connections between terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Anwar al Awlaki — who also communicated with the accused U.S. Army gunman in last month’s attack on Ft. Hood, Texas, that left 13 people dead.

    Some of the information about Awlaki comes from Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with attempting to detonate a hidden packet of PETN explosive aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, the officials said.

    Under questioning by the FBI, Abdulmutallab has said that he met with Awlaki and senior Al Qaeda members during an extended trip to Yemen this year, and that the cleric was involved in some elements of planning or preparing the attack and in providing religious justification for it, officials said.

    Other intelligence linking Awlaki to Abdulmutallab became apparent after the attempted bombing, including communications intercepted by the National Security Agency indicating that the cleric was meeting with “a Nigerian” in preparation for some kind of operation, according to a U.S. intelligence official.

    Intelligence analysts did not realize the importance of that piece of information at the time because the name of the Nigerian was not included and the information was vague and lost in a flood of threat information coming in, the intelligence official said…”

  23. rugger9 says:

    OT but curious anyhow: has anyone seen the actual foreclosure deal in writing, other sites [D Dayen at FDL] keep saying it’s not out there yet, and how can anyone know what the rules are if there is no paper to see?

  24. rosalind says:

    @rugger9: see dday’s post from yesterday aftenoon: There Is No Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Term Sheet. key quote:

    In fact, American Banker reports that the terms will not be released before the filing of the settlement in federal court, because a document with actual terms does not yet exist.

    (emphasis mine)

  25. rosalind says:

    @rugger9: see also Yves’ take here, that by announcing the “deal” with no deal sheet yet in place the AGs have lost their last leverage and the actual written terms are bound to be much worse than those trumpeted in the President-pressured PR Orgy.

  26. greengiant says:

    professional video crew? Does that explain the droning of the other two american citizens in Yemen. Was the nephew on the video crew?

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