Abdulmutallab is said to have spend six months in Yemen, but officials at the San’a Institute for the Arabic Language claim he was only enrolled during the month of Ramadan which began in late August. One of his teachers said Abdulmutallab spent the last 10 days of Ramadan in a mosque, attending the 20-hour course for about 4 hours.
The question of exactly what he did during the rest of his time remains unanswered, although he has told authorities he received training and instructions from al-Qaida in Yemen.
Abdulmutallab is also said to have already had Arabic skills upon enrollment. School director Muhammed al-Anisi believes he may have used the school as a formal pretext to legally enter Yemen after being recruited by al-Qaida. He believes al-Qaida may have organized his time at the school in order to train him.
After the course was finished, an exit visa was arranged for Abdulmutallab as well as a cab to the airport. But he never left Yemen. Experts think he may have gone straight to Yemen’s al-Qaida training grounds, emerging on an aircraft Christmas Day with a bomb.
The incident raises concerns about Yemen, largely lawless and rapidly become an al-Qaida haven.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula, the Yemei branch of the group who claims responsibility for the attack, formed in January when Saudi and Yemeni members joined forces.
The US and Yemen are researching possible retaliation targets in Yemen, should President Obama order them.