Daily Israel Report

Foiled US Plane Bombing Explodes Myth of Poverty-Terror Link

Last week’s attempt to blow up a US plane exploded the myth that terrorists are poor. The suspect is wealthy and linked with Al-Qaeda
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/29/2009, 12:06 PM / Last Update: 12/29/2009, 2:03 PM

Israel news photo

The would-be bomber of the airplane en route to Detroit, Michigan last Friday is from a wealthy family and stayed in Yemen in an area heavily populated by the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, which said it was behind the bombing.

The terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria, is the son of a rich Nigerian banker, whose warnings to American authorities about his son’s behavior were ignored. He left Yemen earlier this month after studying Arabic there, and U.S. investigators suspect that the explosive device he tried to detonate on the plane was bought in Yemen. Passengers overwhelmed him before he could carry out his suicide mission.

Al-Qaeda said the attempted bombing of the plane on Friday "dealt a huge blow to the myth of American and global intelligence services and showed how fragile its structure is."

It also again exploded the myth that claims that poverty spawns terrorism, following several incidents of wealthy Muslims being involved in terror.  After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Princeton University researchers Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova wrote, "A careful review of the evidence provides little reason for optimism that a reduction in poverty or an increase in educational attainment would, by themselves, meaningfully reduce international terrorism."

They also noted evidence provided by Nasra Hassan, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna, that many would-be Arab suicide bombers between 1996 and 1999 "were middle class and, unless they were fugitives, held paying jobs . . . Two were the sons of millionaires."

Abdulmutallab’s main base was an upscale neighborhood in London, where he attended exclusive boarding schools and a college. Foreign news agencies quoted classmates as saying he was a “model student” and very friendly.

His radical views worried his father, who alerted U.S. embassy officials in Nigeria that he could be a security threat. The American government is conducting a thorough review of its procedures following revelations that the State Department had received an alert but that counterterrorist officials did not place him on their “no-fly” list. Abdulmutallab flew to Detroit on a valid U.S. visa issued more than a year ago.

Al-Qaeda, Yemen and Saudi Arabia
Four days before the attempted attack, the Yemeni leader of Al-Qaeda said on a tape recording, “We are carrying a bomb to hit the enemies of G-d."

The evening before the terrorist tried to manufacture a bomb on board to blow up the airliner, Yemeni warplanes, acting on U.S. intelligence, bombed a meeting of al-Qaeda leaders and killed 65 terrorists, according to Yemeni officials.

Picture: Al Qaeda logo  Yemen also is involved an ongoing battle against Shiite Muslims near the border with Saudi Arabia, which claimed this week it has overcome the rebels.

Saudi Arabia has claimed victory in a conflict with Yemeni rebels, saying the army has driven away the last infiltrators from its territory, an Arabic language daily said on Saturday. King Abdullah told a Kuwaiti newspaper that the Saudi forces did not enter Yemeni territory.

However, the Houthi sect of Shiite Muslims  have claimed they have seized control of a Saudi military post along the border as well as weapons, communication material, military vehicles and surveillance equipment. Iranian-controlled Press TV reported that the rebels said they forced Saudi soldiers to flee.