Local Nigerian leaders speak out on terror suspect

December 31, 2009 10:46:57 AM PST
Members of the local Nigerian community held a press conference this morning to address the attempted bombing of a Northwest flight on Christmas day. A Nigerian national, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been charged with hiding powerful explosives in his underwear on that flight. Houston has a very large Nigerian population. Local Nigerian leaders met this morning at the Nigerian Foundation headquarters in southwest Houston to react to the attempted bombing carried out by 23-year-old Abdulmutallab. Community leaders call the incident "unfortunate." They say they condemn his actions, adding that what he did is an isolated incident contrary to what his culture stands for.

They called the terror suspect a social deviant and say he certainly does not represent the Nigerian population.

"This must be a disturbed young man who was indoctrinated by the wrong environment he experienced outside his native country," said Dr. Robert Irabor with the Nigerian Foundation.

Community leaders emphasized Abdulmutallab's education in both Yemen and London, saying that perhaps influenced his actions. They also pointed out that no one here knew that he was in Houston for 12 days last year, as his visa indicates.
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Press statement in full issued by the Nigerian Foundation

The Nigerian Foundation, on behalf of the Nigerian Community, regrets the unfortunate attempt by Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a Nigerian, to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas day - December 25. The Nigerian-American Community condemns the action and wishes to categorically state that:

  1. This singular and isolated act is contrary to our culture.
  2. This must be a disturbed young man who was indoctrinated by the wrong environment he experienced outside his native country.
  3. This 23-year old was educated outside Nigeria. We learned that he obtained his engineering degree in London and went to Yemen for graduate studies.
  4. People in his hometown also remarked that his foreign education and upbringing influenced his action. He does not represent the norm.
  5. A social deviant who aroused the curiosity of his father, a retired bank executive, such that he reported the suspicion of his unusual movements to the U.S. Security Authorities.
  6. We, the Nigerian Community, did not know he was in Houston in August of 2008.
  7. This young man is sick and his action should not be used to brand our highly educated, responsible, professional, and law-abiding Nigeria-American citizens and families of the United States.
  8. The last U.S. Census recorded that Nigerians born outside the United States represent one percent of the population of the Houston area. Using the census estimate of 5million people in the Houston area and an average household of three to five, that puts the Nigerian-American immigrant population and their children born here, at between 150,000 to 250,000. Thanks to our hard-working culture, Nigerian-Americans are contributing their best in all walks of life.
  9. The Nigerian-American Community will not treat lightly, anyone that attempts to drag our name and image through the mud.

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