The Nigerian man charged with the failed attack on a US-bound airplane last month makes his first court appearance in Detroit today.
Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab faces charges including attempted murder and trying to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Just how a man with known links to extremists was able to board Delta Flight 253 on Christmas Day has raised serious questions over the quality of airport security and intelligence gathering in particular – shortcomings acknowledged by US President Barack Obama who has announced a major security shakeup.
“We will strengthen our defences but we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans,” he said. “We develop new screening technologies and procedures. Our adversaries will seek new ways to evade them, as was shown by the Christmas attack. In the never- ending race to protect our country, we have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary.”
Beefed-up security measures will include the recruitment of hundreds more air marshalls. Airport screening procedures will also be improved.
As for American intelligence chiefs, no heads will roll – but the US president has urged all officials to do their jobs better and faster.