'Underwear Bomber's' Alarming Last Phone Call

Abdulmutallab called his father to say it would be their last contact.

December 31, 2009, 3:01 PM

ABUJA, Nigeria, Dec. 31, 2009— -- The accused "underwear bomber" made a dramatic final call to his father that he found so alarming, the father approached Nigerian officials who took him directly to the CIA's station chief in the Nigerian capital, sources told ABC News.

Current and former officials of the Nigerian government, including a source close to the suspect's family, say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, called his father from Yemen with the warning that it would be his last contact.

It has previously been reported that the man's father, prominent Nigerian banker Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, went to Nigerian and American officials Nov. 19 to warn them that his son had been radicalized by Islamic militants in Yemen.

Details have emerged about Abdulmutallab's final phone call that highlight President Obama's statement that there were "systemic failures" of the country's security system.

ABC News' sources said that during Abdulmutallab's final call, he told his father the call would be his last contact with the family. He said that the people he was with in Yemen were about to destroy his SIM card, rendering his phone unusable.

A senior U.S. official briefed on the matter tells ABC News that the phone call prompted the father to contact Nigerian intelligence, fearing that his son might be planning a suicide mission in Yemen. The Nigerian officials brought Mutallab directly to the CIA station chief in Abuja Nov. 19.

The next day the embassy sent out a thin report to U.S. embassies around the world warning Adbulmutallab may be associating with extremists in Yemen.

The CIA official compiled two more robust reports following the meeting with the suspect's father. One was sent back to CIA's Langley, Va., the other remained in draft form in Nigeria and was not circulated until after the attempted attack on Christmas Day, according to a U.S. official.

In what has been seen as a possible failure to stop the bomber from boarding a U.S.-bound plane, the alert prompted counterterrorism officials to put Abdulmutallab's name into a database of more than half a million others that the U.S. suspects of ties to terrorism, but they did not put him on the country's no-fly list. The information also was not shared with Yemeni intelligence officials, the Yemen government has said.

The president was expected to receive preliminary reviews on the security failure today. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly indicated details of the review would not be released.

He said, however, "Details of embassy Abuja's meeting with Abdulmutallab's father are of the review, and we are not in a position to comment on it at this time."

Abdulmutallab told federal officials after his capture that he spent a month at the home of an al Qaeda official in Yemen while he was trained for jihad, officials have told ABC News.

He left Yemen Dec. 7 and weeks later was aboard a Northwest Airlines flight that stopped in Amsterdam and then continued on to Detroit.

'Underwear Bomber' Should Have Been Stopped at Yemen Airport

Strapped into his underwear was a lethal mix of high explosives intended to blow a hole in the plane as it approached Detroit on Christmas Day. Instead of exploding, however, the device caught fire and Abdulmutallab was subdued by other passengers.

The international investigation into how Abdulmutallab evaded scrutiny turned to Yemen today. Abdulmutallab's visa for Yemen was valid from Aug. 4 to Sept. 21, but he stayed until December, nearly three months longer than was legal.

Under Yemen's rules, Abdulmutallab should have been stopped and not allowed on the plane when he left Yemen because he overstayed the visa, Yemeni security officials told The Associated Press today.

Administrators at the school where Abdulmutallab studied believed he had left the country in September, they said.

"We arranged a taxi to take him to the airport on Sept. 21 and we said goodbye," school director Muhammad al-Anisi told the AP. "Our responsibility toward him ended that day."

Al-Anisi said no one from the airport security or immigration had subsequently contacted the school to ask about the student's whereabouts.

The officials said Abdulmutallab left Yemen Dec. 7 on a flight to Ethiopia and then continued on a few days later to Ghana. In Ghana's Accra Airport Dec. 16, he purchased his $2,853 plane ticket with cash, what has been considered a red flag for potential terrorists.

A Nigerian government official says that Abdulmuttallab traveled by road on a well-known route from Accra to Lagos frequently traveled by dissidents. The source says the Nigerian government is still getting information on exactly how long he was in Lagos, but information indicates that he spent no more than "48 hours."

But the Nigerian government put out a statement today that said Abdulmutallab flew into Lagos from Ghana and only spent 30 minutes in Lagos as he switched planes.

At Lagos airport, Abdulmutallab boarded the intercontinental flight without luggage, another red flag for potential terrorists.

Critics have also questioned why the U.S. did not revoke Abdulmutallab's visa after Britain refused to grant him a visa earlier this year. Britain rejected the request because Abdulmutallab applied to study at a nonexisting college.

The State Department said today, "We understand that the U.K. denial of a visa to Abdulmutallab was a routine decision based on his application to pursue academic study at a U.K. institution not being credible. The denial was not based on terrorist grounds or other security concerns. U.K. authorities did not inform us that they denied a student visa for Abdulmutallab."