Opinion: 2OO5 or Thereabouts, Al Qaeda Suspect Was In Cameroon!

Apparently, in the year 2005 or thereabouts, the alleged Al Qaeda petrel, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in the company of about ten classmates made a trip up the 4070 metre high Mount Cameroon! Probably, they were final year students at the British International School in Lomé, Togo.

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Pictures from Time Magazine about the life and moments of Abdulmutallab give credence to the presence of the “aberrant lad” (dixit Wole Soyinka) in Cameroon in 2005.

In one of the pictures (above), the amateur Al Qaeda operative is in the front row, left, wearing a yellow shirt. He stands out! The dashing-intelligent looks were already taking form and shape.

His choice of colour may not be deliberate. But yellow usually signifies sunshine, enlightenment, happiness, hope, optimism, creativity, energy and momentum.

The three monotheistic religions i.e. Christianity, Islam and Judaism revolve around hope, enlightenment and happiness in paradise either in full communion with God or in the company of ninety-nine virgins of benzene beauty.

Mister Abdulmutallab seemingly chose the latter when he attempted to detonate an explosive device with the intention of blowing up the Northwest/Delta plane (Flight 253) on Christmas Day 2009 in the United States.

Back to the picture in question; when we took a first look at this picture something struck me. It was the writing on the wall of the building in the background. Seemingly, even in biblical times, not everybody can make meaning out of a mere writing on a wall! It is clearly written, Banque Internationale Pour Le Commerce et l’Industrie du Cameroun, BICIC, as it then was.

For those who know Buea, this building used to house the then BICIC which is a stone’s throw from the Governor’s Office (I was or I am attached to the Governor’s Office), Condemn Quarter (that served as the first Southern Cameroons House of Assembly), the Bismark Fountain and the Old German Government School building now used by the military. The route to the mountain is besides this building.

From the picture, any keen person can see the path and the western fringe of the mountain in the background. The area is called Upper Farms. Buea denizens, mountaineers, visitors, tourists and particularly students of Sasse and Bishop Rogan colleges are all too familiar with this area.

Indeed, in Form III we went up the mountain. But we had to be accompanied by a guide from the delegation of Tourism in Buea. Thus, it cannot be overemphasised that the delegation kept a record of our ascent and descent to and from the mountain. However, in our quest for information on the presence of Abdulmutallab in Buea, we realized to our dismay that the delegation had no record (or had one but might have got missing) of the presence of Abdulmutallab and his mates in Cameroon!

We arrived at one conclusion: Abdulmutallab’s team probably used a private guide working for an agency. Lifafa Travel and Ecotourism Agency was our next port of call. No success. So, how did Abdulmuttalab and his team go up and down the mountain?

Someone hit on another idea: they must have passed a day or two in Buea or say Limbe. Then, let’s check hotel records. We were in for another embarrassment. Mountain Hotel, a once exquisite three star hotel, has been abandoned for years! It was a rude shock! Mountain Hotel has been battered by the vagaries of time, nature and native politics. Parliamentarian Flats Hotel? Another sad story (Both hotels have been and are still being rehabilitated).

Why not write to the British International School in Lome, Togo, someone quipped? You just have to google the name of the institution and any information you want is displayed on your screen! We did just that and wrote to the headmaster of the school. Total silence! However, there was a message on the school’s website extolling the type of education their pupils and students get and subtly disparaging the action of Abdulmutallab!

Surely, at the Immigration Office at the Douala International Airport there should be a record of the presence of Abdulmutallab in Cameroon. The Douala Airport is the sure port of entry and exit for Abdulmuttalab and his colleagues or is it Nsimalen International Airport? Please, do not jump to conclusions like the airport has no records because officials are still tapping on their keyboards!

Then, my one franc question: why all the noise about Abdulmutallab being in Cameroon? That a certain Tangwa made it to the mountain may not be news except during his trip to the mountain something extraordinary occurred.

However, an Abdulmuttalab, who is probably yet to adhere to Islamic fundamentalism, is news because he later did something that stunned his family, country, religion and the world! This is the more so because in order to unravel the jigsaw of an Abdulmutallab any information relating to him has to be pieced together and analyzed.

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The Continental Radio Station (CRS) is an online radio station run by African media savvies targeting the African and world audience.


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