A 23-year old Nigerian who attempted to blow up a plane on Christmas Day in the US studied at a Dubai university and had been due to graduate in December.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who has been charged with the attempted bombing of a plane as it approached the US city of Detroit on Christmas Day, was a student at the Dubai branch of the University of Wollongong.
Abdulmutallab, who came from a privileged Nigerian background, graduated from the prestigious University College London with a qualification in mechanical engineering in 2008.
His family told the BBC that he wanted to move to an Arab country to study Arabic and his parents decided to send him to Dubai to study a post-graduate degree in business management as he would benefit from Dubai’s “cosmopolitan nature and would not be exposed to extremist influences.”
Set up in 1993 by the University of Wollongong in Australia and based in Dubai Knowledge Village, Abdulmutallab began studying at the university in January this year but left in July.
“We have no idea why he left,” Mohamed Khalifa, vice president of academics at the university told the National newspaper.
“He did not complete any degree with us and he is no longer a student with us.”
Courses at the university cost up to AED82,200 ($22,377) a year and Abdulmutallab was reportedly due to graduate in December this year, Dora Akunyili, Nigeria's information minister, told the Wall Street Journal.
Abdulmutallab decided to leave the course in Dubai and told his parents he was going to Yemen to study Arabic, Akunyili added.
His parents report that the last time they heard from Abdulmutallab was in October when he told them was severing all links with his family.
His concerned parents attempted to travel to Yemen to bring their son home but were refused a visa.
Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a prominent Nigerian banker who had previously retired from his position as chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, then reported his son to the US, Nigerian and Saudi authorities as he feared his son has been ‘radicalised’.
Abdulmutallab is believed to have traveled to Ethiopia and Ghana and then on Christmas Eve boarded a plane from Lagos and got a connecting to flight to Detroit via Amsterdam.
An hour before the flight was due to land, he attempted to ignite an incendiary device but was restrained by passengers and crew.
Mr Abdulmutallab, who suffered burns in the attempted suicide bombing, is reported to have told FBI investigators that he had links to Al Qaeda and had received training in how to use the explosives while in Yemen.
Students currently attending the University of Wollongong in Dubai have reported that they are concerned their former student’s activities will have on them.
“My friend wants to go America for New Year’s, but he has the same name, Farouk, so he’s afraid to go now. This actually makes things harder on us, knowing that he was well-educated. It’s going to make it harder for us to go and study where we want in the world,” Mohammed Marzouqi, an Algerian student studying at the university, told The National newspaper.
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