23-year old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to bomb a Northwest Airlines Flight en route from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.
Abdulmutallab was educated at an international British school in Lagos as a youth, and received a degree in engineering and business finance from University College London from 2005-08. His father was a banker and government official in Nigeria.
Abdulmutallab’s father reported him to authorities after he showed interest in radical Islam, cut ties with his family and disappeared. His recent past includes two trips to Yemen and moves to both Egypt and Dubai.
His 2005 posts to the Islamic Forum (http://www.gawaher.com) reveal a lonely young man desperate for a better social life, love life, success on standardized tests, someone to “consult” with, and respite from depression. “I have no one to speak to. No one to support me, no one to consult, and I feel depressed and lonely. I do not know what to do. And then I think this loneliness leads me to other problems.” He was also conflicted about eating meat not slaughtered by Muslims with his parents, and experienced difficulty in finding a balance between working to understand the Koran, and relaxing without becoming too listless.
He also wrote about a 2005 trip to Yemen to study Arabic, where he seemed to be having a happy experience. He described how many American and British people were in Sanaa, and excitement over the availability of Pizza Hut and KFC.
Abdulmutallab had 287 Facebook friends; pictures posted to his profile show him smiling with friends.
A fellow student of his at University College London said he showed no signs of radicalization, but described him as quiet and reserved, and frequently prayed.