THE would-be bomber accused of trying to blow up a flight to the US on Christmas Day has allegedly declared there are "many more like me" who are ready to strike.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had been placed on a watch list earlier this year after UK authorities refused to renew his student visa, issued the chilling warning to investigators bolstering fears of a link to a cell operating out of Yemen.
Scotland Yard sources also claimed there were four or five radicalised British Muslim cells in the country, said to be from Bradford, Luton and London.
British security services are already hunting for possible accomplices as they probe the bomber's links in the UK. They are also examining whether he was radicalised while at University College London (UCL) between 2005 and 2008.
Yesterday Home Secretary Alan Johnson said it was unlikely he was acting alone.
US officials have already said Abdulmutallab told them he was trained on how to detonate explosives by al-Qaida operatives in Yemen
It was later reported that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing of the US airliner. In a statement posted on the internet, the group said Abdulmutallab arranged the attack with its members, in retaliation for a US operation against the group in Yemen.
Yemeni forces, helped by US intelligence, carried out two air strikes against al-Qaida operatives in the country this month. The second one was a day before the attempted bombing of the plane.
The group said the would-be bomber used explosives manufactured by al-Qaida members.
Security at airports on both sides of the Atlantic has been heightened in the wake of the incident on Christmas Day, when Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to ignite a device as the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam – carrying nearly 280 passengers – entered its final descent to Detroit.
Delays are expected to continue on transatlantic journeys with passengers advised to bring only one item of luggage, and facing waits of about one hour.
Mr Johnson also confirmed the 23-year-old had been refused a new visa and placed on a watch list last May after applying for a bogus course.
US President Barack Obama said last night he had ordered a review of the nation's watchlist system and its air safety regulations, and had asked his national security team to keep up the pressure on potential terrorists.
Mr Obama said US officials were doing everything in their power to ensure Americans were safe in the wake of the Christmas Day attack on the Northwest Airlines flight.
The President, issuing a statement during his holiday in Honolulu, says US authorities would not rest until they found everyone involved in the attack in Detroit.
US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano conceded yesterday that the aviation security system failed.
Abdulmutallab has been charged in federal court with trying to detonate the device as the plane approached Detroit.