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बुधवार, दिसंबर 30, 2009

US intelligence failed to act over 'Nigerian attacker' internet chatter

Intelligence agents failed to act on internet "chatter" among al-Qaeda members that referred to a possible attack by "the Nigerian", it has emerged.

High-ranking White House officials say that intelligence services should have pieced together warnings about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of trying to blow up a plane on Christmas Day, with suspicious chatter about a Nigerian in an al-Qaeda terror plot.
"That could have led to a much broader picture and allowed us to disrupt the attack," a senior administration official said.
American intelligence already had warnings of plans for a Christmas-week terror attack, according to the New York Daily News. They also knew that al-Qaeda in Yemen planned to use a recruit dubbed "the Nigerian" in a forthcoming mission.
"It was not obvious or readily apparent that all of it spoke to this attack, but in fact we believe it did," the official said.
According to ABC news there was intelligence to suggest that a plot was being hatched in Yemen. President Obama last night denounced "a mix of human and systemic failures" that allowed Mr Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student, to board the plane to Detroit.
"I consider that totally unacceptable," Mr Obama said, adding that he would "insist on accountability at every level." He added: "Lives are at stake." He said that he had "serious concerns" about intelligence from the alleged bomber's father in November and intercepts of communications about a potential attack that were ignored.
Government, State Department and immigration databases had information about Mr Abdulmutallab's two previous trips to the US — once to the Washington area in 2004 and again to Houston Texas for a "religious conference" in 2008 — and about the multiple-entry visa he still held.
Given the warning from the alleged bomber's father Dr Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, Hillary Clinton's State Department had the power to revoke the visa, but the message from the US embassy in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, did not disclose that Mr Abdulmutallab was in possession of such a permit. The counter-terrorism centre entered him onto the watch list of over half a million names but due to "insufficient evidence" did not add him to the no-fly list.
Intelligence services failed to join the dots between the evidence which was stacking up and Mr Abdulmutallab remained free to fly to the US from Amsterdam.
President Obama said that wasn't good enough. "There were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have — and should have — been pieced together," he said. "The suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America."
The Dutch Interior Minister will today give a press conference about the case.
Polish airports intensified security screening for passengers bound for the US today saying that all travellers must pass through full body scanners that can detect even the smallest traces of explosive material.
Mr Abdulmutallab, who studied at University College London and visited Yemen shortly before the attack, was permitted to board Flight 253 for Detroit even though his father, a prominent banker, had reported his suspicions to US officials in November.
Mr Abdulmutallab has been charged with attempting to set off an explosive device shortly before the plane came into land. The device failed at the last minute but President Obama last night said there was a "potentially catastrophic breach of security" that could have killed nearly 300 people.
The President spoke out amid growing criticism from his Republican opponents that he is not doing enough to protect the American public from terrorist atrocities.
They have also questioned whether it is right for the President to continue with his plan to close Guantanamo Bay.

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