The Detroit bomb suspect was recruited by al-Qa'ida while studying in London, Yemen claimed yesterday.
The country's deputy prime minister said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab first made contact with the terrorist group during his three years at University College, London.
Rashad al-Alimi made the allegation as he sought to deflect claims that Yemen was a terrorist haven.
He said the Nigerian student left Yemen in 2005, untainted by radical links after a period spent studying, but when he returned in August last year he was a fully fledged al-Qa'ida member.
"He lived in the UK from 2005 to 2008 and he was absorbed into extremist groups in Britain," Mr Alimi said.
British security sources denied the claims, saying that when MI5 came across Abdulmutallab, he was only on the fringes of a number of groups. The British Home Office said his extremist views only became a security threat after he had left the country.
Mr Alimi said Abdulmutallab had met the radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and senior al-Qa'ida officials when he travelled to south Yemen's Shabwa region last year.
But Mr Alimi said no contact would have been made at all if Britain and America had shared their suspicions and intelligence. (© Daily Telegraph, London)