Dad of Alleged Bomber Abdulmutallab Called 'Heroic,' Invited to Congress

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo says that while it's unfortunate that Nigeria is now on the map for an attempted terrorist act, he understands the U.S. position.

"This is a country that's gone through the horrible events of 9/11. It's a country that is fighting against terrorists in Afghanistan and losing its own men," Obasanjo told ABC News. "If the United States of America reacts somewhat strongly… to anything that tends to undermind its security both internally and externally, it should be understood."

But for businesses seeking investment, the actions of Abdullmutallab and subsequent fall out could not come at a worse time. With a population of more than 144 million people, Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and is the financial heart of West Africa. Besides its massive oil wealth, the country also boasts a thriving banking sector, media and entertainment industry and agricultural industry as well. At a time when Nigerian businesses are trying to attract more foreign investors and are already fighting an image of corruption and chaos, terrorism is not a welcome addition.

"This will negatively affect us," says Mohammed Mustapha Bintube, the managing director and CEO of Jaiz International PLC, the first Islamic Bank in Nigeria.

Islamic finance, a concept of running a bank based on risk-reward sharing rather than on interest, which is considered un-Islamic, is a relatively new phenomenon in Africa. Bintube says the company which is still getting started has reached out to investors from the Middle East to Wall Street and this latest attention will be a setback.

Christmas Day Bombing Attempt Strains Relations Between U.S. and Nigeria

"A lot of the banks we are courting for investment will be wary and put up barriers. It's bad PR for the country," he said.

Bintube's company has the added issue that the chairman of the bank is Dr. Umaru Abdul Mutallab, the father of the man accused of attempting one of the worst terror attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11.

"Our chairman is a part-time chairman. His shareholding in Jaiz is less than 20 percent," says Bintube. But he also stresses that company is proud of their association with Mutallab. "He's an honorable person with extensive partners both domestically and internationally."

Former President Obasanjo, who calls Mutallab "a complete gentleman," says he's known the Mutallab family for many years and expresses sympathy for the father.

"I know he's a man who wants the best for his children and for his family, but then it is part of the problem of parenting that you think of the best for your children, you're trying to lead them to have the best in life, and somewhere along the line something snaps in their life and they turn out to be something else," he says.

While Obasanjo says he understands why Nigerians are angry at feeling as if they are unfairly being labeled a terrorist state because of one young man's actions, those actions, he says, do have consequences for the entire country.

"What we of course must also know is that when a situation like this happens, innocent people will suffer," he says. "And that is what is now happening to us."

ABC News' Zachary Wolf contributed to this report

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