From the Lap of Luxury to a Lap of Explosives

Lap Bomber 'a Very Good Chap to Hang Out With'

As details continue to emerge about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would be bomber of Detroit’s Flight 253, it is hard to imagine how the privileged son of a wealthy Nigerian banker ended up where he is today, nursing burns to his lap from a failed bomb attack and facing decades in prison.

Educated at the best schools, Abdulmutallab was described by his equally privileged classmates as “a very good guy, a very good chap to hang out with.” They can’t believe that this is the man who set his own lap ablaze on Christmas trying to destroy a US-bound flight.

Yet the indications were there. Even if officials can’t corroborate his claim to be a member of al-Qaeda, Abdulmutallab’s father saw in his son the potential for disaster, and warned the US embassy in Nigeria.

The details of the would-be attack still haven’t come entirely clear, but reports have Abdulmutallab boarding the plane without a passport, in the company of a “sharp-dressed man” who claimed Abdulmutallab was a poor Syrian refugee. The man did not board the plane, and his identity remains a mystery.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of