The Nigerian father of the Christmas day plane bomber has been described as "heroic" by Sen. John Kerry and invited to testify before Congress on how he tried to alert the U.S. that his son had become an Islamic militant.
Dr. Umaru Abdul Mutallab, father of accused bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, will likely travel to Washington and testify, according to multiple sources.
The father is a prominent banker in Nigeria who tried to alert Nigerian and CIA officials that his son had come under the influence of jihadists in Yemen. He told the CIA that he feared his son was going to carry out an attack in Yemen.
Despite the father's warning, Abdulmutallab was not put on a no-fly list and he was allowed to board a plane bound for Detroit. His attempt to detonate a bomb sewn into his underwear fizzled and he succeeded only in setting himself on fire.
"Mr. Abdulmutallab acted in a heroic fashion by informing U.S. authorities of his concerns about his son's whereabouts and activities and by seeking to disrupt what he believed could have been a dangerous situation," the letter from Kerry, D-Mass., said.
"We would like to afford him the opportunity to discuss his experience with his son and to provide his recommendations on the process by which he worked with U.S. authorities," the letter said.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee spokesman Frederick Jones told ABC News, "Congress is wrestling with the specific questions of the Christmas Day bombing plot and the broader questions of how Yemen has become a touchstone for radicalization. Mr. Mutallab, who identified his own son as an extremist and threat to the United States, has an important story to tell and the Committee would like to hear from him."
Dr. Mutallab has been invited for a Jan. 20 hearing, but so far no hearing has been scheduled and the committee hasn't received an acceptance from the father.
Sources in Nigeria told ABC News the father will likely testify as a way to both "set the record straight" and as an opportunity to show Nigeria in a positive light, said one source close to the family.
Many Nigerians say that it's not only Abdulmutallab that has been indicted, but Nigeria itself. The addition of Nigeria to a special terror airport screening list puts it in the company of Islamic hotbeds like Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has also angered and dismayed government officials, businessmen and ordinary Nigerians.
Every day headlines scream across Nigerian newspapers about the unfairness of what they see as being classified as a nation that harbors terrorists. Protestors at the American Embassy have carried signs that read "Nigerians are the happiest people on earth."
Government officials say being put on the list has strained diplomatic relations between the two allied countries. One former government official complained, "We have cooperated fully with the United States on this investigation. Opened up our operations both overt and covert to them, and this is what we get in return?"
The general message resonating throughout Nigeria: Abdullmutallab was schooled and radicalized in the United Kingdom and trained in Yemen. He stopped living full-time in Nigeria when he was about 10 years old. So why is Nigeria being punished?