British security officials suspected that Abdulmutallab had been initially recruited by al-Qaeda operatives in London before leaving to train in Yemen with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a claim echoed in 2010 by Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister Rashad Al Alimi.
In addition to Abdulmutallab, other former British student suicide bombers include Omar Sheikh, who beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002; Omar Khan Sharif, who carried out a suicide bomb attack on a bar in Tel Aviv in 2003; and Abdullah Ahmed Ali, the leader of a failed liquid suicide bomb plot to blow up 10 trans-Atlantic flights in 2006.
Most recently, Iraq-born and Swedish citizen Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, who had spent the last decade studying at London’s University of Luton, blew himself up and injured two others in Stockholm in December 2010.
However, not all British-based Islamist terrorists take the educational route to become suicide bombers. Rajib Karim, a Bangladesh-born British resident, was a British Airways employee who was convicted in February 2011 for conspiring with AQAP’s recently killed propagandist and strategist, Anwar al-Awlaki, to commit a suicide terror attack on the scale of 9/11.
To carry out the plan, Karim, a former fundraiser for the al-Qaeda linked terror organization Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, joined British Airways as a software engineer specifically to provide al-Awlaki critical information on British Airway’s computer and security systems. Then, in an effort to achieve his own martyrdom by blowing up an airliner, Karim applied for training as a British Airway’s cabin crew member shortly before he was arrested in February 2010.
Sadly, the problem of British-based Muslim terrorism isn’t going away any time soon. As one intelligence official said, “This is a generational problem we are facing.” That generational problem, unfortunately, also includes large numbers of British Muslims going overseas to receive terrorist training.
According to a 2010 report by the Centre for Social Cohesion, it estimated that since 9/11 over 4,000 British Muslims have attended terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In addition to the Afghan-Pak connection, Somalia has also surfaced as a new terrorist training locale. British authorities say increasing numbers of Britons of both Somali and Pakistani origin have embarked on “jihad tourism” to Somalia to attend terrorist training camps run by Somalia’s al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab.
The net effect of all these activities has been to turn Britain into what a former British terrorism official called “a hub for the development of terrorists.” Unfortunately, with 200 potential suicide bombers now roaming freely throughout Britain, that hub just grew far more dangerous.
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