Why are the armchair warriors on the right freaking out at the thought of trying would-be “undiebomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in criminal court, when they didn’t seem to have a problem trying the attempted “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid in normal criminal court, even though George W. Bush had already implemented his “military tribunals” AND disappeared a U.S. citizen (Jose Padilla) by the time Reid pleaded guilty? Both men attempted to blow up airliners over the U.S. using articles of clothing, but were overpowered by passengers. Both men are radicalized Muslims who spent time in London, as well as parts of the Middle East, losing touch with their families. Richard Reid’s terror attempt produced a six-day waiting period in which we did not hear from a vacationing President Bush. Abdulmullatab’s terror attempt produced a three-day waiting period in which we heard from Janet Napolitano (twice, counting her about-face) and then from a vacationing President Obama. When they’re not using the terror plot to raise money, or licking their chops in partisan glee over the potential death of airline passengers, or dreaming about Jack Bauer-style torture for the suspect, right wingers are acting fit to be tied over the Obama administration’s approach to Abdulmullatab, but they were damned near casual about the Bush administration’s response to Richard Reid. They’d also like to implement new airline rules that profile anyone with a name like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Funny, they’ve yet to propose profiling people named “Reid.” Trust me, I’m a people named Reid. So how would Newt Gingrich handle us Reids?
It is time to go to profiling of dangerous people instead of harassing and retsricting the innocent
We need a new policy of systematically going after terrorists that involves explicit profiling and explicit discrimination for behavior
My newsletter at newt.org on wednesday will outline aggressive practical strategy of profiling and discrimination against terrorist targets.
I can’t wait for that proposal. (not) … Could it be that right wingers aren’t afraid of potential terrorists named “Richard Reid” because their omnipresent fears are only peaked by “foreign sounding” names? Surely they realize that not everyone with a funny sounding name is Arab (Abdulmullatab is Nigerian) or even Muslim (our president is an evangelical Christian named Barack Hussein Obama) … don’t they??? And of course, they do understand that people with names like “Timothy” can be terrorists who blow up stuff too, right? Given that the right simply can’t get off the ethnicity treadmill, aren’t we more vulnerable than ever once terrorists figure out that all they’ve got to do to fool the Dick Cheney crowd is stitch some plastique into the panties of guys named Jack, John and … Dick? Meanwhile, as we learn more about Abdulmullatab’s time in London, you begin to wonder whether the breakdown in security in Amsterdam, and in the U.S., had less to do with anyone’s sensibilities about terrorism, or about ethnic names, than about our collective sensibilities about wealthy people.
(Independent UK) – A serious teenager who skipped the school disco, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab seemed to classmates at the expensive British School in Togo, west Africa, to be studious, good-looking and from a wealthy family – heading, like many of them, for a top job in a lucrative profession.
… Abdulmutallab’s wealthy parents raised him to be an observant Muslim. In Nigeria, he was brought up amid the trappings of luxury as part of a select community for whom rooftop swimming pools and helipads were routine mod cons. Dinner guests included some of the most influential men in the country.
His father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, was a banker whose friends were ministers, and who by 1999 had risen to become chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria, a position he only relinquished earlier this month. While leading the institution he helped found Nigeria’s first Islamic bank, Jaiz International.
It was during a visit to Dubai that Abdulmutallab made it clear he no longer wanted anything to do with his family. His father warned American officials at the US embassy in Lagos that he was deeply concerned that his son had been “radicalised” while abroad. It is this that British and American security officials are investigating, looking for any clues that might tie him to known radicals. A central focus for these investigations is Abdulmutallab’s time in London, where, after he finished school (completing an international baccalaureate with high marks), he studied mechanical engineering at University College London.
His family’s wealth meant he was able to live in a £3m, three-bedroom apartment in Mansfield Street, close to Oxford Street. It was during these three years in Britain that his religious convictions are thought to have hardened, making him increasingly intolerant of what he perceived as the West’s infringements on the Muslim world.
Given the deference with which the well-heeled are treated, really everywhere, would any young man of similar station have been kept off that plane, short of a bomb sniffing dog or a body scan literally catching him red-pantsed, by some hourly paid ticket agent or airport screening flak without his raising a “do you know who I am!” fuss? Isn’t it more likely that he easily acquired that passport and U.S. visa because of who he — and who his father — is? Also from the Independent:
The final transition from religious devotee to extremism is thought to have taken place in the 18 months since June 2008, when he graduated from university. In London the US Embassy gave him a two-year visa granting right of entry to the US.
Having left London, he spent time in Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana and Yemen – and it is Abdulmutallab’s movements in Yemen, where there is high-level terrorist activity, that would shed light on the extent of his involvement in broader radical networks.
from AP, more proof that he did have a passport:
(CBS/AP) The suspected terrorist who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 Christmas day did present a passport to authorities in Amsterdam before boarding the Detroit-bound plane, Holland’s counter-terrorism agency said Wednesday.
Abdulmutallab arrived in Amsterdam on Friday from Lagos, Nigeria. After a layover of less than three hours, he passed through a security check at the gate in Amsterdam, including a hand baggage scan and a metal detector, officials said.
Abdulmutallab was carrying a valid Nigerian passport and had a valid U.S. visa, the Dutch said. His name did not appear on any Dutch list of terror suspects.
The confirmation on Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab’s passport comes after a fellow passenger claimed to have seen a possible accomplice help the 23-year-old Nigerian board the flight.
That last bit, based on reports from a Michigan man, has prompted an investigation by the FBI:
Lori Haskell said that FBI agents spoke with her and her husband, Kurt, Tuesday morning after the two spoke to news media outlets about Kurt Haskell’s account that he saw an older, well-dressed Indian man help suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his effort to board the flight in Amsterdam, Netherlands, without a passport.
The Reuters news service reported Tuesday that Dutch military police and Holland’s national counter-terrorism agency NCTb were reviewing closed-circuit video and any other evidence that might corroborate Kurt Haskell’s account. Sandra Berchtold, an FBI spokeswoman in Detroit, referred all news media inquiries to the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. A spokesman there declined to comment.
Lori Haskell said she was questioned for about 10 minutes and recognized a photo of the suspect from several that agents showed her. She said her husband was interviewed for at least an hour.
Kurt Haskell told news outlets on Saturday that he recognized Abdulmullatab getting on board the flight, that he “looked like he was poor,” (again, he’s actually quite rich…) and that:
“He caught my eye because of who he was traveling with”: a wealthy looking well-dressed Indian man in his 50s.
The Indian man, Haskell said, told the ticket agent that the younger man “needs to board the plane, but he doesn’t have a passport. … He’s from Sudan. We do this all the time.”
Now, that story looks like it’s full of big, gaping holes. Could we have a new set of media Salahis on our hands?
UPDATE: Politico has the leak on the administration’s security findings and all the finger-pointing that is to come.