Panty Bomber's Online Musings Were Lonely, Angst-Ridden, and Uncomfortably NormalS

Good news: The Feds are finally savvy enough to scoop the blogosphere. Bad news: Now we'll never get a screen grab of his Facebook profile. Panty bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's social networking persona is emerging, and it's startlingly banal.

The Washington Post reports:

"I have no one to speak too [sic]," read a posting from January 2005, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was attending boarding school. "No one to consult, no one to support me and I feel depressed and lonely. I do not know what to do. And then I think this loneliness leads me to other problems."

The Washington Post reviewed 300 online postings under the name "farouk1986" (a combination of Abdulmutallab's middle name and birth year).

Details about Farouk1986 birth date, education, classmates, and international travel match Abdulmutallab's records. Officials haven't officially confirmed it, though.

The portrait that emerges is startlingly banal. A teenaged Farouk1986 gaped at cosmopolitan cities with Western restaurants. He obsessed about the college admissions and wanted to go to Stanford, Berkeley, or CalTech—only to have his dream of an American education shattered in a most American way: "I tried the SAT. It was a disaster!!!" He grapples with "lowering the gaze" at women—a euphemism for dismissing lust—and balancing his ambitions with "the deen," the religious way of life.

It appears that Farouk1986 took up a stricter interpretation of the deen when he began college in London—a Western metropolis that has been fighting homegrown terrorism in recent years. When his parents visited, he fretted about reconciling his strict Muslim dietary restrictions with their laxer ones, imploring readers to "Please respond as quickly as possible as my tactic has been to eat outside and not at home till I get an answer," which sounds like he might have been hiding his religiosity from his parents.

The Post's report is captivating particularly for what it lacks: an account of how this thoughtful, grade-conscious boy shown in a "sharp-looking pink polo-shirt" on his Facebook profile became the sort of man who would shove liquid explosives down the front of his pants and try to blow up an airplane hovering over a major American metropolis—or if we can fairly delineate the two at all. I wonder if the more terrifying prospect would actually be if the two are one and the same, and the face of terrorism is not just the impoverished, desperate, and unfathomably bewildered—but also the privileged, comfortable, and uncomfortably relatable. [WaPo]