UK had alerted US to bomb suspect

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The Independent Online

UK intelligence that the Detroit plane bomb suspect tried to contact radical Islamists while a student in London was passed on to the US, Downing Street said today.

The name of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was included in a dossier of people believed to have made attempts to deal with known extremists that was shared with American intelligence.

But he was not singled out as a particular risk, Gordon Brown's spokesman said, insisting that Abdulmutallab was not radicalised until after he left the UK in October 2008.

US President Barack Obama has criticised US intelligence agencies for failing to piece together information about the 23-year-old Nigerian that should have stopped him boarding the flight.

Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to ignite explosives stored in his underwear as Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam, carrying 280 passengers, made its final descent to Detroit.

He has reportedly told FBI investigators he was supplied with the bomb in Yemen and the UK and US authorities have announced stepped-up efforts to counter the al Qaida threat from that country.

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that counter-terrorism officials knew Abdulmutallab had "multiple communications" with Islamic extremists in Britain while a student between 2006 and 2008.

It said officials were aware of repeated contacts with MI5 targets who were under surveillance but that the information had not been shared at the time.

However the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "Clearly there was security information about this individual's activities and that was information that was shared with the US authorities.

"That is the key point."

He went on: "We are pretty certain that he was radicalised outside the UK. He left the UK in October 2008. But it is also clear that whilst he was here he was attempting to make contact with people and that is the intelligence we were able to secure from the intelligence services.

"One of the lessons that clearly comes out of what could have been a terrible tragedy was the whole question about how we continue to share intelligence about individuals."

Abdulmutallab was barred from re-entering the UK after his spell as a student because he applied for a bogus course not because he was on any list of potential threats.

The spokesman defended the decision not to single out the Nigerian as a risk.

"There are a number of individuals who try and reach out to radicals and others," he said, suggesting many of them were simply doing so out of curiosity and did not pose a threat.

"It does not necessarily mean they are going to be planning any specific action. Whatever he decided to do, he decided to do whilst he was out of the country."