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Was Abdulmutallab Connected to al-Qaeda or Not?

As Daphne blogged, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — the terrorist organization’s Yemen-based franchise — claimed credit for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s alleged attempt to down Northwest flight 253. But an anonymous Obama administration official told ABC’s Jake Tapper :

“He had been deployed before December 17,” the official said. “They’d like to make this seem like retaliation, but the reason they tried to blow up the plane is because they have a hateful, murderous agenda. And that’s why we’re on the forward lean against them.”

And yet ABC is also reporting that two former Guantanamo detainees tied to al-Qaeda, released by the Bush administration to Saudi custody in 2007, were allegedly involved in the plot. Both claims cannot be true.

Update: I asked Tapper for some clarification on what his source meant, and he replied that the official was pushing back on AQAP’s claim that the plane attempt was retaliation for a recent U.S. airstrike on Yemen. Not, in other words, that Abdulmutallab is linked to al-Qaeda. I’m awaiting further details on how the investigation into Abdulmutallab turned up links to those former Guantanamo detainees.

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