No indication plane attack part of larger plan: US

No indication plane attack part of larger plan: US


"Right now, we have no indication that it is part of anything larger but, obviously, the investigation continues, and we have instituted more screening and what we call 'mitigation measures' at airports," US Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, said.

She said it was too early to speculate about any al Qaeda links to the foiled bombing attempt allegedly by the Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

"Right now, that is part of the criminal justice investigation that is ongoing, and I think it would be inappropriate to speculate as to whether or not he has such ties," Napolitano said in response to a question.

Abdulmutallab has been charged with "willfully" attempting to destroy the Amsterdam-Detroit Northwest Flight carrying 290 people on board and with placing a destructive device on the aircraft.

The Homeland Secretary said it was being investigated as to how the terror suspect managed to sneak in the explosive liquids inside the plane.

Napolitano said: "...we are looking at what happened in Amsterdam as he transferred flights to a US-bound flight. We've already been working with the airport and airline authorities there to see what kind of screening -- screening equipment was used. We have no suggestion that he was improperly screened, but we want to go through and see."

She also said the "system worked" on the Christmas Day when the Nigerian national tried to blow up the Detroit-bound North West Airlines plane with 279 passengers and 11 crew members.

The remarks on several US news channels by Janet, the Homeland Security Secretary, came in for sharp criticism from eminent opposition lawmakers and security experts who appeared on various Sunday talk shows.

"One thing I would like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here,” Napolitano said.

"The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within, literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight," she said.

Senior Republican Congressman Peter King disagreed with the Homeland Security Secretary.

"The fact is, the system did not work, and we have to find a bipartisan way to fix it. He made it on the plane with explosives and he detonated the explosives. If that had been successful, the plane would have come down and we would have had a Christmas Day massacre with almost 300 people murdered," he told the CBS news in an interview.

Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of Senate Homeland Security Committee, said he is troubled by several aspects of this case, including how the suspect escaped the attention of the State Department and law enforcers when his father apparently reported concerns about his son's extremist behavior to the US embassy in Lagos.

Lieberman said he is also troubled how the suspect managed to retain a US visa after such complaints, and why he was not recognised as someone who reportedly was named in the terrorist database.

Appearing on the Fox News, he said: "Let's be honest. This guy, Abdulmutallab, got through the screening, and this would have been an enormous disaster if not for our good fortune, a miracle on Christmas Day that this device did not explode."

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