America’s spy service, the CIA, is under fire for ignoring warnings of a terrorist bomb plot on Christmas Day. The father of a Nigerian man in custody in the US is reported to have alerted a local CIA agent about his son’s radical behaviour.
The agent filed a report on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab but it was never circulated by CIA headquarters. He was arrested last Friday for trying to destroy a plane as it approached Detroit.
President Obama was scathing in his criticism of the security blunders:
“There was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security,” he said. “We need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system, because our security is at stake and lives are at stake.”
Abdulmutallab was on a CIA list of about half a million potential terrorist suspects, but he was never placed on a no-fly list. It’s also unclear how he joined the Detroit-bound flight in Amsterdam with explosives in his underwear.
“We’re sharing information far better than we did prior to 9/11,” said 9/11 Commission vice-chairman Lee Hamilton. “But this incident surely illustrates (that) we’ve got a long way to go.”
Al-Qaeda in Yemen claims Abdulmutallab was working for them. Yemen has long been a base for the group, and the country’s foreign minister says there may be hundreds more people prepared to follow Abdulmutallab’s example.