Dec 25 plotter says 20 others trained to blow up jets
Washington: A Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a US airliner with an underwear bomb has boasted that close to 20 other young Muslim men were being prepared in Yemen to blow up more planes with the same technique, according to a media report.
British Intelligence has confirmed perhaps this as most chilling boast that accused Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab made to investigators after his arrest, CBS News said on Friday in an investigative report.
"I think the fact we know that there are other operatives being trained by al Qaeda in Yemen is extremely troubling, and is the most dangerous dimension to come out of the December 25 event," said CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate.
A team of FBI agents is now on the ground in Ghana attempting to piece together Abdulmutallab`s whereabouts and activities in the two weeks prior to the attempted attack on Flight 253, the news channel said.
Abdulmutallab first arrived in the Ghana capitol of Addis Ababa on December 9 after spending five months in Yemen, CBS said citing a government official.
US officials strongly suspect Abdulmutallab met al Qaeda operatives in Ghana who may well have offered final preparations for his suicide mission investigating if it was there that the would-be bomber obtained the specially-designed underwear packed with highly explosive powder, it said.
"One of the keys is to get to London, to Ghana, to Nigeria, to Yemen to find out who Abdulmutalab was talking to, what he was doing, what else may be at play here with respect to a pipeline coming out of Yemen to hit the United States," Zarate was quoted as saying.
The report came as Abdulmutallab pleaded not guilty to six federal charges in a Detroit court. Security was tight during the hearing, which lasted less than 10 minutes. During Friday`s arraignment, Abdulmutallab, who wore a white T-shirt, tennis shoes and a chain shackle at his ankles, stood at the podium and answered questions in English from US Magistrate Judge Mark A Randon.
He said "yes" when asked if he understood the charges against him and said he had taken "some pain pills" after the judge inquired whether he had taken any drugs or alcohol in the past 24 hours.
His attorneys then waived the reading of the indictment, and Randon entered the not guilty plea. His defence attorney, Miriam Siefer, also did not challenge the government`s request to keep Abdulmutallab in pre-trial custody.
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