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Bomb attempt men were in U.S. custody

Dec. 28, 2009 at 8:56 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. officials say two al-Qaida leaders allegedly behind the terrorist attack on Northwest Flight 253 were released from Guantanamo prison in November 2007.

Saudi nationals Muhamad Attik al-Harbi and Said Ali Shari were sent to Saudi Arabia Nov. 9, 2007, but assumed al-Qaida leadership roles in Yemen, ABC News reported Monday.

Both former Guantanamo detainees, described as military commanders, appear in a January video with Abu Basir Naser al-Wahishi, alleged to be Osama bin Laden's personal secretary and a top leader of al-Qaida in Yemen, the report said.

The Saudi Arabian arm of the al-Qaida terrorist group claimed Monday it was responsible for the Christmas Day attack on a Northwest passenger jet. The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant Islamist Web sites, said it found a statement posted on a jihadist Internet forum in which al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claims to have been responsible for the incident, The New York Times reported.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, of Nigeria, has been charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft. Passengers subdued him while he allegedly attempted to ignite an incendiary device.

SITE said the posted statement spoke of the success of the "Nigerian brother" in getting past airline security measures and praised its own explosives technology while blaming the attack's failure on technical fault.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has staged attacks in Saudi Arabia and Yemen and beheaded a captured U.S. engineer in 2004, the Times said.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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