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Bombing Suspect was Student in Houston

The man charged with the Christmas bombing attempt of an airliner headed for Detroit took classes at an Islamic institute in Houston that has a branch in metro Detroit, an institute leader said Wednesday.

Nigerian defendant Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, in federal custody in Milan, Mich., attended classes in 2008 in Houston at the AlMaghrib Institute, said institute Vice President Waleed Basyouni.

Abdulmutallab told instructors he was studying engineering and finance in London, Basyouni said.

"AlMaghrib Institute is working with the authorities and will continue to cooperate as needed on this case," he said in an e-mail to the Free Press.

The institute's Web site shows 14 sites in North America, including one listed as "Dearborn/Windsor," and says it is a nonprofit with thousands of students - mostly from the United States - that teaches about Islam in depth. Abdulmutallab attended while in Houston on Aug. 1-17, 2008, paying $2,250 for seminars on Islamic manners and history, Basyouni said.

The institute discourages talk of religious war and terrorism among students, Basyouni told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday. Of Abdulmutallab, he said, "He showed no signs of extremism."

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