Abdulmutallab’s struggles highlight line between piety and extremism

Before Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen to train with al-Qaida and wrote off his family, tensions existed with his father over his alleged “immoral, un-Islamic ” choices to become a wealthy banker. This is apparently a common struggle in Kaduna, Nigeria, where Abdulmutallab was raised. He also spent a lot of time unsupervised, a common issue in wealthy Nigerian families, and was exposed to the radical ideas that circulate the region.

Researchers also note his loneliness and isolation as a factor in his radicalization. “He is a total teetotaler,” said Adulmutallab’s uncle. “He doesn’t do what his peers used to do. He is always indoors reading his Quran.”

By the time he reached University College London, the transformation to radical Islam had occurred. “He had changed; he was saying ‘Islam, Islam, Islam;’ Aminu Baba-Ahmed says.

Abdulmutallab may have met with al-Awlaki, radical American-Yemeni cleric implicated in Hasan case

In the weeks leading up to the Christmas Day attack, Yemen has stated in its fullest disclosure of contact between al-Qaida and Abdulmutallab that he trained with al-Qaida operatives in lawless mountainous regions, and may have met with Anwar al-Awlaki, radical American-Yemeni cleric associated with Major Hasan.

The government also claims he received the explosives for the attack in Nigeria.

Abdulmutallab and Hasan linked to Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, full body scanners go unused at Nigerian airports

Abdulmutallab is believed to have met with al-Qaida operatives in a house used by extremist Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He has also been linked to Major Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter.

Yemeni’s deputy prime minister believes the cleric is alive, although Obama officials believed he was killed December 24 on an air strike on a house in Yemen.
The US gave Nigeria full body scanners to use at their 4 international airports, but the machine in Lagos is only used sporadically and only for people suspected of drug smuggling.

Albdulmutallab told classmates after the Islamic course they were enrolled in together was over, he was going to study Shari’a law in Hadhramout Province, but may have lied to cover up travel to Shabwa.

Abdulmutallab had passport, contrary to eyewitness report

Abdulmutallab is said to have presented a passport in the Amsterdam airport, contrary to Kurt Haskell’s report. Haskell claims to have seen Abdulmutallab with a well-dressed Indian man who told ticket agents Abdulmutallab “doesn’t have a passport…he’s from Sudan. We do this all the time.”

The passport was valid and from Nigeria, and had a valid US visa.

Who is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?

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.

An overview of religion and economics in Nigeria

Whether attempted Northwest Airlines bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalized in Nigeria where he was raised, or the UK where he attended university, is so far unclear. This NPR interview with West Africa corespondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton discusses Christianity, Islam, US-Nigeria relations, and radicalism in Nigeria, exploring the environment Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was brought up amidst.

Hundreds of child immigrants arrive alone, says NGO

According to NGO Save the Children, hundreds of children who arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa seeking refuge, arrived without parents or guardians. Of the 775 illegal migrant children who arrived on Lampedusa in the past three months, Save the Children cited that 82% arrived alone. According to the organization, the majority of children came from Etitrea, Somalia, Nigeria, and a lesser number from Ghana, Togo, Sudan, and the Palestinian territories. The report by Save the Children is part of a wider program called Praesidium III, jointly conducted with the UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, and the Red Cross.

Full-text article available here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Islam and Feminism today

The 2007 Fall Institute at UMass Boston invites proposals that explore critically the relationship between Islam and Feminisms today. It seeks to examine the complex and rich terrain of Islam as a force for understanding global politics, an impetus for political and psychological self-determination, a stimulus for cultural productions, and a foundation for identity. By engaging Islam through a feminist lens, we hope to challenge inadequately interrogated assumptions and modes of thinking that posit secularism and democracy in opposition to religiosity and oppression. The critical perspective of feminist analysis provides a particularly valuable window into the many struggles internal to Islam, its changing dynamics over time, and the intersecting influences of economic/cultural globalization, imperialism and patriarchal power structures in the lives of individuals, communities, and nations.

Conference Details

Engaging Islam: Preliminary Conference Schedule The Institute is free and open to the public. No registration is necessary for non-presenting attendees.


Panel Title: “Defining Islamic Feminisms”

Key-Note: Amina Wadud

Key-Note: Haideh Moghissi

Key-Note: Lila Abu-Lughod


Panel Title: “Negotiating Shari’a and the ‘Secular State’”

9-10AM Key-Note: Madhavi Sunder

10-10:30AM – Break

10:30-12:30 – Panel:

  • Berna Turam “Democratization and Muslim Women: The Case of Secular Turkey”
  • Natasha Dar “Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité, and the Shari’a: The Production of Islamic Legal Knowledges and ‘The Muslim Woman’ in the French-North African Diaspora”
  • Mitra Rastegar “Secularism through U.S. policies and discourses on Islam and Muslim citizens”
  • 12:30-1:30 Break for Lunch

    Panel Title: “Negotiating Shari’a and the ‘Secular State’” (continued)

    1:30 -2:30 Key-Note: Tariq Modood

    Break: 2:30-3PM

    3-5PM – Panel:

  • Srimati Basu “Separate and Unequal: Muslim Women, Women’s Movements and Un-uniform Family Law in India”
  • Jasmin Zine “Negotiating Religion and the Secular State: Muslim Women and Shari’a Law Tribunals in Canada”
  • 6-7:30PM – Screen Film “Silent Waters”
  • 7:30PM – Dinner & Presentation by Shahnaz Khan

    Panel Title: “Challenging Hegemonic Representations of Muslim Women”

    9-10AM – Keynote: Lara Deeb

    10-10:30AM- Break

    10:30-12:30 – Panel

  • Elizabeth Bucar “Good Hijab, Bad Hijab: The Politics of Religious Dress in Iran”
  • Peter McMurray “Speaking the Unspeakable: Three Representations of Wartime Sexual Violence Against Bosnian Muslim Women”
  • Surbhi Tiwari “Whither Fundamentalism or Feminism? Sania Mirza, ‘sexy’ dressing and the politics of (erotic) identity”
  • 12:30-1:30 – Break for Lunch
  • Panel Title: “Globalization, Gender Relations, and Sexuality”

    1:30-2:30 PM – Key-Note: Jasbir Puar

    Break: 2:30-3PM

    3-5PM – Panel:

  • Ashley Al-Sayyad “Queer Muslim Women: Visibility, Diaspora, and Islam”
  • Chris Kelly “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) Muslim Converts”
  • Sonja Van Wichelen “Politics of Presence: Feminist Contestations over a New Muslim Indonesia” Dinner at a restaurant in Cambridge

    Panel Title: “Political Economy and Islamic Feminisms”

    9-10AM – Keynote: Lamia Karim

    10-10:30AM – Break

    10:30-12:30 – Panel:

  • Fauzia Ahmed “Islam, Poverty Alleviation, & Masculinity”
  • Roksana Bahramitash “Iranian Islamic Women as ‘the Other’: A Class Analysis of the Role of Women in the Informal Economy and Islamic Micro Credit”
  • Damla Isik “On Weaving, Sohbet, and Patience: Governance of Time and Labor in Konya’s Weaving Industry”
  • 12:30-1:30 – Break for Lunch

    Panel Title: “Coalition-building and Transnationalism”

    1:30PM – Key-Note: Zainah Anwar

    Break: 2:30-3PM

    3-5PM – Panel:

  • Azza Basarudin “Recreating Communities of the Faithful?: Negotiating Gender, Religion & Feminism in Malaysia and Egypt”
  • Tina Nebe “Islam in the Public and Private Spaces: Turkey, Iran, Nigeria, and Indonesia”
  • Dina Siddiqi “Legislating Fatwas: Dilemmas and Contradictions for Feminists”
  • Rafia Zakaria “Dangerous Truths: the Muslim woman’s story and the emerging chasm between transnational feminist scholarship and activism”

    Panel Title: Pedagogy and Islam

    9AM-11:30 – Panel:

  • Hilary Kalmach “Female Leadership and Activism in Conservative Islamic Communities: An Islamic Form of Feminism?”
  • Juliet Gentile “From ‘Honorary Man’ to Sheikha: The Path of Sufi Women in the West”
  • Jennifer Fluri “The Corporeal Marker: Gender, Space and Islam”
  • 11:30-12 – Break

    12-1PM – Closing Remarks

    For more details about the institute and guidelines for submissions, visit website.

    Second International Meeting About Islamic Feminism

    The president of the Intercultura, Yonaida Sel-lam, Hill participate this weekend in the Second International Meeting about Islamic Feminism celebrated in Barcelona and organized by the Junta Isl_mica de Catalu_a, together with the Generalitat de Catalu_a, the Concejal_a de la Mujer del Ayuntamiento de Barcelona, the Institut Europeo de la Mediterr_nea, the Fundaci_n Pluralismo y Convivencia and the Junta Isl_mica de Espa_a. This initiative aims to give continuity to the task of the First Meeting, which is to advertise the emergent feminine Islamic movement to the transnational promotion of gender equality. The participants are intellectual Islamic women (Sahin Sardar Al_, Law Professor of the University of Peshawar; the American Margot Badran, the Indonesian Lily Zakiyah Munir) working subjects such as abortion, polygamy, divorce, violence, sexual rights, family planning and leadership in countries like Morocco, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria or Indonesia.