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Air Attacker's Past

POSTED: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - 4:41pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:25pm

More clues on the background of man who tried to blow up airliner...

Federal investigators are digging into the background of the Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb a flight over Detroit Christmas day.

Who is he? Was he on a mission for Al Qaeda? And, amid post 9-11 security, how was he able to smuggle bomb-making materials onto the plane?

Umar Abdulmutallab is in a federal prison in Michigan.

But a top Republican wants him tried in a military court.

"I wish they had put him into a military tribunal so we could get as much intelligence and information matter out of him as we could to find out if there are any more attacks coming," says Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

Federal investigators are now reviewing hundreds of internet postings.

In one, Abdulmutallab says he's torn between liberalism and extremism.

Since august the 23-year-old Nigerian had been in Yemen, where a wing of Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility.

"Yemen is the new battle front in Al Qaeda's war against the United States," says terrorism expert Steve Emerson.

Great Britain denied him a visa.

But neither that, nor warnings of extremism from his father, prompted the State Department to pull his visa here.

"It is a privilege to come into the United States of America. They have the authority to revoke that visa. Why was it not done in this case?" asks former Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson.

The State Department says counterterrorism officials never asked them to.

Abdulmutallab used undergarments to conceal explosives.

A body scanner may have detected it, but due to cost and privacy concerns, only a few U.S. Airports use them.

Today, air passengers are still being asked to arrive early to go through added security.

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