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December 30th, 2009
09:50 AM ET

College friend: What happened to the AbdulMutallab I knew?

Nic Robertson
Senior International Correspondent

Qasim Rafiq had trouble reconciling the shocking news surrounding Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab with the college friend he knew: a pious and genuine person who was the president of an organization that condemned terrorist attacks.

AbdulMutallab raised money for charity, he liked soccer, he was social; he was quiet, humble and never came across as dangerous, Rafiq said.

"It's really difficult to see how he could have led a double life at the time, and afterward, it's anyone's guess as to what happened," Rafiq told CNN on Tuesday.

Rafiq does not believe AbdulMutallab became radicalized while at University College London. As a student, the man now accused of trying to blow up a jet was president of the school's Islamic Society from 2006 to 2007 - a society, Rafiq said, that denounced the July 7, 2005, terrorist bombings in London.

If AbdulMutallab had ever shown signs of support for such attacks, he couldn't have become leader of the group, said Rafiq, who was president of the same society from 2005 to 2006. And from what Rafiq could remember, AbdulMutallab opposed fundamentalist Islamic views that encouraged such violence.

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Filed under: Nic Robertson • Terrorism
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. SacJac

    Profiling sounds like a good idea until its you who is getting profiled.

    December 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  2. Thomas

    I believe that Al-Qaida in Yemen has made their position clear, they have taken credit for this act, they gave this man the tools and support to try this, and they are instigating others to attack airports, planes, and other places where we gather. I believe that there is a certain element of any collection of humans that can be changed and influenced to do the bidding of others. Some people are easily influenced.
    The only solution will be when all people begin to think and act for themselves and stop accepting/ following these types of radical precepts. Working for positive changes through accepted processes must be shown to be a vaible method of change. Random violence does not solve problems.

    December 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  3. Tim Gibson

    We have had past terrorist who married, had children and all for the purpose of cover and to use in their efforts of jihad against others including the US. The extent to which a radical will go in order to acheive the end result desired is I think beyond the normal scope of our day to day thought process.

    What happened to Umar to lead him to jihad, to terrorist activity, is not the most important issue to understand. But we must understand and deal with the radical jihadist terrorist. And yes, they do come from Nigeria Zizi, at least this time he did. Because I do not believe in violent crime in our own streets does not mean it does not exist.

    December 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  4. Teresa, OH

    to Qasim Rafiq: you wondered what happened to the friend you knew and the person he became? 1. He wasnt who you thought he was to begin with. And being president to an antiterrorist group is a perfect cover for actually being a terrorist isnt it? ( keep your friends close but your Enemies closer, yes? )

    2. His loneliness and depression and feeling ALONE AND ISOLATED led him to do what he did. I think a lot of suicide bombers are actually SUICIDAL to begin with and dont know what to do with their lives. And then they are offered all the treasures of heaven to kill others for their cause. Sounds like a win- win situation for some suicidal people, unfortunately.

    If authorities are lucky: Umar might give up some info?

    December 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  5. Leeny

    Yeah – next we'll all need full body MRIs before getting on a plane. We might have to go ot profiling, as much as some people hate the idea. Israel does it, and they haven't had airport issues.

    I'd rather risk offending someone than get blown up on a plane, but that's just me.

    December 30, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  6. Jeanette

    Apparently the radicals have the system and knowledge to turn these people who are already Islams into radical Islams. Their motivation is not only money but they play on their religious upbringing and twist them to think they are right and the true Islams.

    Look how many they have recruited in other countries. I know some are recruited for money in their homelands but this person didn't need the money. They just twist their minds to think they are right.

    December 30, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  7. Zizi

    I'm a Nigerian and i must say its utterly outrageous. Nigerians may be many things but definitely not terrorists. He's actions are heavily frowned upon back at home

    December 30, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  8. Paul Sutherland

    I am concerned that terrorists will copy drug mules by inserting explosives into their rectums or other body cavities. Will scanning machines detect this?

    December 30, 2009 at 11:37 am |

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