Nigerian terrorist was called ‘the Pope’

December 28th, 2009 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 28 (IANS) The Nigerian man who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight this week was so clean he was nicknamed the Pope, his former British teacher said.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who has been charged with attempting to bomb a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, earned the nickname because he did so little wrong, the Daily Mail reported Monday quoting his ex-teacher.

History teacher Michael Rimmer, who taught Abdulmutallab at the British International School in Togo, said his student was “every teacher’s dream - very keen, enthusiastic, very bright, very polite”.

“At one stage, his nickname was ‘the Pope’.

“In one way, it’s totally unsuitable because he’s a Muslim, but he did have this saintly aura. He was a model student, very keen, enthusiastic and loved the subject I taught him, history, and would often stay behind after lessons to discuss items in the lesson or in the news.”

Fellow student Efemena Mokedi said: “He was very popular, a good guy, a very religious person, a very honest person who was friends with all the teachers.”

Abdulmutallab’s family fear he began to turn radical after 2005, when he began a three-year course in engineering at the prestigious University College London.

One friend said: “When his degree course ended, he ‘disappeared’ to Yemen, where he was being taught Arabic. His family are suggesting he was probably recruited in London but became radicalised in Yemen. He had been in Yemen for about a year or even a year and a half.”

Rimmer said Abdulmutallab started to express extremist views after 9/11, adding: “I was angry at the nutters who had put these silly ideas in his head but also angry with him because he had wonderful parents and comes from a lovely family, with lots of friends and had everything going for him.

“He’s a fine looking lad, very bright and I expected great things of him. But he’s thrown it all away and his parents will be devastated.”

The paper said Abdulmutallab’s time in Yemen led his father, influential banker Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, to warn US and Nigerian authorities six months ago about his son’s views.

Mutallab, who retired last week after heading both Nigeria’s major banks, said he was surprised that despite his expressing his concerns, his son’s name had not been placed on a no-fly list.

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