Monday, December 28, 2009

Was Abdulmutallab Recruited in Dubai?

Mr. Abdulmutallab enrolled in a master's degree program at the Dubai campus of the University of Wollongong of New South Wales, Australia, said the official, who is familiar with the man's immigration status. His enrollment at the school was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The school is one of many foreign universities that have set up branch campuses in Persian Gulf states to attract foreign students to their programs.

During his brief stay, Mr. Abdulmutallab didn't exhibit any signs of radicalism, according to this official.

The school, like all universities based here, offers visa support to foreign students. The Web site for the Dubai campus of Wollongong says master's degree courses range in cost from about $18,000 to $25,000 for a degree. Student visas are renewable as long as students are certifiably registered and enrollment is complete, according to the Web site.

The official familiar with the situation said that the Nigerian attended classes at the university's campus, part of a sprawling set of low-rise buildings populated by a mix of Arab, Russian- and Iranian-speaking students, and acted like "a normal student" during his stint in Dubai. It's unclear what degree he was pursuing.

The Dubai campus offers nine post-graduate programs, most of which focus on business administration, finance and management.

After about a 2 ½ month stay in Dubai, the young man "disappeared," and never returned to the U.A.E., the official said. "There was nothing at all suspicious about him. He was a normal student, going to classes, and then all of a sudden he disappeared ... and never came back" to the U.A.E., the official said.
Might be time for a few interviews with that "mix of Arab, Russian- and Iranian-speaking students" at the university.

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