The would-be terrorist who tried to blow up a US jet on Christmas Day has revealed there are more “just like him” being trained by al-Qaeda.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (pictured inset) told agents questioning him that he was one of many bombers being groomed by the Yemeni al-Qaeda affiliate to attack American-bound aircraft, according to ABC News.
His words were leant credence as al-Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for the failed bombing.
A statement posted on a website said the attack was in retaliation for US-backed raids on December 17 on its militants in Yemen in which at least 60 people were reported to have been killed.
The statement read: “We tell the American people that since you support the leaders who kill our women and children ... we have come to slaughter you (and) will strike you with no previous (warning); our vengeance is near.”
The news comes as US President Barack Obama vowed “not to rest” until the terrorists were tracked down.
Interrupting his Christmas holiday in Hawaii, Obama said:
“We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and to defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the US homeland.”
In the UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he believed the 23-year-old Nigerian had not acted alone.
And an investigation was launched in Holland where the Northwest Airlines flight stopped before flying onto Detroit to trace a man allegedly seen with Abdulmutallab before he boarded the plane.
Security measures were immediately stepped-up following the foiled attack, leading to lengthy delays at airports.
However, some have been left to the discretion of individual airlines including preventing passengers from having blankets on their laps during the last hour of a flight to the US, and disabling seat-back flight maps.
However, many airlines have a one hand luggage rule still in place, including British Airways on flights from or transferring through Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports.