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Airliner terrorism suspect cooperating

WASHINGTON - The Nigerian man accused of trying to use a bomb hidden in his underwear to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day has been cooperating with investigators since last week, a federal law enforcement official said yesterday.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been providing useful intelligence that FBI agents working with the intelligence community have been following up in the United States and overseas, the official told The Associated Press.

The development is significant because several prominent lawmakers have argued that Abdulmutallab should have been placed in military custody immediately or undergone more questioning before being given a Miranda warning by the FBI that he had the right to refuse to answer questions.

In a terse exchange yesterday on Capitol Hill, FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared to confirm that Abdulmutallab is talking with investigators now.

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked Mueller: "It is also my understanding that Mr. Abdulmutallab has provided valuable information. Is that correct?

"Yes," Mueller replied.

"Thank you," Feinstein said, "and that the interrogation continues despite the fact that he has been Mirandized?"

"Yes," Mueller said. He explained that Abdulmutallab did talk to FBI agents after he was arrested on Christmas Day, speaking freely until he went into surgery for burns on his legs.

In the interim, a few hours, investigators decided to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights when he returned, a second federal law enforcement official told the AP. It then became apparent that he was not inclined to continue talking to investigators, so they read him his rights, the second official said.

The official made clear that getting Abdulmutallab's renewed cooperation had been a continuing effort since that day.

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