CIA's Abdulmutallab Info Not High Priority

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab generic Computer, Laptop, Typing, Internet, Student, Study, Computer Keyboard CBS/AP

This story was written by CBS News investigative reporter Pat Milton.

Sources tell CBS News that it appears the CIA information on "the Nigerian" was limited including his actual identity because it was coming from sub-sourcing. That means the information was one or two steps removed from the origin source who had contact with Abdulmutallab or who eyeballed him associating with individuals with suspected or known links to al Qaeda.

The sub-source apparently told the CIA that the person of interest dubbed "the Nigerian" held extremist views, had the ability to travel outside the region, and was being embraced and groomed by those who ascribe to al Qaeda.

Information provided by sub-sources often present challenges to the intelligence community because of their vagueness and the lack of ability to follow up on the information.

Special Report: The Christmas Day Terror Attack

Law enforcement and the intelligence community is focused today on identifying any possible accomplices. The top priority is trying to identify if there are other operatives preparing to launch similar attacks either on a plane to the United States, Europe or elsewhere.

Officials are not sure whether Abdulmutallab was a test run. But the incident drew attention to U.S.' capability and vulnerabilities.

Investigators and intelligence agents are seeking to identify who may have been in the training program in Yemen with the suspect. They even want to know who was sitting next to him in class.

Officials are seeking answers to a litany of questions: Who was associated with Abdulmutallab, who assisted him, who gave him the chemicals, who sewed the explosives in his underwear, who further radicalized him, and who sent him on his way.

Sources say they believe he was in Yemen between August and December studying Arabic, praying, and learning how to be a terrorist.

Sources also tell CBS News that the Brits had Abdulmutallab on their radar prior to the attempted attack in Detroit as someone with terrorist links and that may have been a reason he was denied access to the country.

However, a U.K. counter-terror source tells CBS News that he was denied access because he provided the name of a bogus university he was going to be attending.

Sources say Abdulmutallab apparently came to the Brits attention after he was identified as a possible trace player, someone on the periphery of other previous terror investigations within Britain.

More coverage from CBSNews.com:

Official: We Knew Al Qaeda Planned "Christmas Surprise"
U.S. Intel Lapses Helped Abdulmutallab
Friend Says Abdulmutallab Was Not Extremist in London
Yemen, North Africa: Terrorism's New Home
Yemen Raids Al Qaeda Hide-Out; 1 Arrested
Opposition Grows to Transferring Gitmo Detainees to Yemen
Dick Cheney: Obama Stance "Makes Us Less Safe"
Democrats Say GOP Playing Politics on Bombing Attempt
Obama: "Systemic Failure" Allowed Attack
Roommate: Abdulmutallab Shunned Women
Abdulmutallab's Missing Months in Yemen
TSA Still Vexed by Explosives Screening
Tracing Bomb Suspect's Journey to Detroit



  • Pat Milton

    Pat Milton is a CBS News investigative producer

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