The Christmas Day airline bomber apparently charted his descent into lonely fanaticism in hundreds of internet postings.
They show a fervently religious and lonely young man who fantasised about becoming a Muslim holy warrior.
Throughout more than 300 posts, a user named “Farouk1986” reflects on a growing alienation from his family, his shame over sexual urges and his hopes that a “great jihad” will take place across the world.
Although the postings have not been officially attributed to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, details from them match his personal history.
For example, the username also matches his middle name and birth year. Farouk1986 says he is from Nigeria, Abdulmutallab’s home nation. And the suspect’s father says Abdulmutallab broke off ties with the family.
The posts, beginning in 2005, show a teenager looking for a new life outside his boarding school and wealthy Nigerian family.
Most of all, they paint a portrait of someone who seems lost and needs someone to hear him.
The postings seem hastily written and are replete with spelling and grammar errors. In one, on Jan 28. 2005, he wrote: “i am in a situation where i do not have a friend, i have no one to speak too, no one to consult, no one to support me and i feel depressed and lonely. i do not know what to do.”
The posts, uncovered by The Washington Post newspaper, were made to an Islamic bulletin board called Gawaher, which literally translates from Arabic as “gems” or “jewels,” but can also be read as “essence” or “spirit.”
Farouk1986 discussed growing up and preparing to leave his British boarding school in the African nation of Togo for college, which also matches Abdulmutallab’s personal history. However, educational pursuits appear to be overtaken by a growing fascination with religion, with posts going so far as to describe his own fantasies about holy war.
“I imagine how the great jihad will take place, how the muslims will win, insha Allah and rule the whole world, and establish the greatest empire once again!!!” reads one February 20, 2005, post.
The words “insha Allah” are the phonetic translation of the Arabic for “God willing.”
“So usually my fa(n)tasies are about islamic stuff,” he continued. “The bad part of it is sometimes the fantasies are a bit worldly rather than concentrating in the hereafter.”
On January 28, 2005, Farouk1986 said he was writing from Yemen, and that he was learning Arabic at the Sana’a Institute of Arabic Languages. Administrators at the school said that its director, Muhammad al-Anisi, has spent two days being questioned by Yemeni security officials. He remains in custody.
Farouk1986 was enthusiastic and described parts of the city as being traditional and quiet and other parts bustling, with Western fast-food restaurants, amusement parks and gyms.
“Its quite cheap too,” the writer gushed. “Yemenis are so friendly and welcoming.”
Yemen’s government said Abdulmutallab lived in the country for two different periods, a year from 2004-2005 and from August-December this year.
In a series of exchanges which coincide with Abdulmutallab’s final year of high school in 2005, the writer also discusses his conflict between attending his high school prom and being a good Muslim.
He has exchanges with other posters about proper Islamic dress, modern movies, marriage and his desire to learn Arabic.
In another posting, Farouk1986 describes how alone he feels and acknowledges feeling lust, chastising himself for not lowering his gaze around unveiled women. At another point, he warns how “the hair of a woman can easily arouse a man.” He writes that he was considering getting married at 18, as his family “could help me financially.” Abdulmutallab’s father is a prominent Nigerian banker, but nothing apparently came of his marriage wishes.
Instead, Farouk1986 wrote that he embraced fasting.
“I felt a shield that prevented evil thoughts coming into my head,” he wrote. “I felt closer to Allah.”
Some of Farouk1986’s writings offer a hopeful tone. He writes about expecting to get over his loneliness when he attends university classes and joins local Islamic groups. He discusses television and soccer, but at one point gets upset after another person posts a sarcastic remark about soccer loyalties.
“I had butterflies going through my stomach reading that,”Farouk1986 wrote. “I acted hypocritically? May Allah forgive me for that. I’m very sorry. Now i feel all bad. Maybe its time to say bye bye to this thread. I’m sorry if i offended anyone. Please all should forgive me.”