Obama orders no-fly list review
DETROIT: President Barack Obama ordered a review of US no-fly lists and passengers faced sweeping new restrictions today after a failed bid to blow up a transatlantic airliner.
As the family of the young Nigerian accused of trying to cause carnage over Detroit promised their full cooperation to security agencies, US prosecutors hoped to secure a DNA sample from the suspect.
And while Obama demanded to know how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab managed to board the plane wearing an explosive device, Britain confirmed the 23-year-old had been placed on its own security blacklist in May this year.
Abdulmutallab was moved from a hospital to a federal prison west of Detroit on Sunday and his lawyer said there would be a hearing on Monday to address a request for a DNA sample. The suspect was not expected to attend.
According to a charge sheet prepared by prosecutors, Abdulmutallab tried to bring down the Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 using a device containing PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, a high explosive.
The explosive material was allegedly sewn into his underwear and officials believe tragedy was averted only because the makeshift detonator failed to work properly before fellow passengers jumped on him, ABC News reported.
Abdulmutallab, a former student in London, was added to a watch-list of some 550,000 names last month after his father told US embassy officials in Abuja that he was concerned by his son’s increasing radicalism.
But he remained off a short-list of 18,000 names from which the no-fly list of 4,000 is selected and flew from Lagos to Amsterdam on Christmas Eve and on to Detroit the following day with a valid US visa. “There’s a series of databases that list people of concern to several agencies across the government. We want to make sure information-sharing is going on,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
“The president has asked that a review be undertaken to ensure that any information gets to where it needs to go, to the people making the decisions.” Obama had also ordered a second review to examine how “an individual with the chemical explosive he had on him could get onto an airliner in Amsterdam and fly into this country,” Gibbs said.
Republican Senator Susan Collins said that following his father’s warning, Abdulmutallab’s visa should have been revoked, or at the very least he should have been given a physical pat-down at the airport. US counter-terrorism investigators, meanwhile, sought to determine if Abdulmutallab was acting alone or had been sent on a deadly suicide mission by
Al-Qaeda. Obama’s top security official Janet Napolitano said there was “no indication” Abdulmutallab was acting as part of a larger plot and warned against speculating that he had been trained by Al-Qaeda.
The New York Times reported that given Al-Qaeda’s new activities in Yemen, the US has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against the terror network in that country. The Pentagon will be spending more than 70 million dollars over the next 18 months, and using teams of special forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, interior ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels, The Times noted.