Asserting that “this is unacceptable,” Obama asked his administration to submit by December 31 a report on the failed Christmas Day attack.
The president’s hard comments came as media reports said that CIA knew about the Nigerian terror suspect, but the information was not passed on to other agencies.
Breaking away from his Hawaiian vacation for the second day, Obama said: “When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been... a systemic failure has occurred”. “An extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could cost nearly 300 lives... I consider that totally unacceptable,” the president said as recriminations mounted over the failed attack.
“The reviews I have ordered will surely tell us more. But what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security,” he said.
CNN reported that CIA had detailed a meeting between Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s father and an agency official and it was sent to CIA headquarters in Langley in Virginia. But the news channel said the report was not circulated within the intelligence community raising new concerns that the agencies have failed to improve cooperation despite pressure after the 9/11 attack.
“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,” Obama said in his second statement on this issue in two consecutive days.
On Monday, Obama had issued instructions to review the terrorist watch list system and air travel screening.
He also issued guidelines for those reviews and directed that preliminary findings be provided to the White House by December 31.
“It’s essential that we diagnose the problems quickly and deal with them immediately,” Obama said.
Referring to reports that the father of the suspect in the Christmas day incident had warned US officials in Africa about his son’s extremist views, Obama said it “appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list”.
Setting a December 31 deadline for a preliminary report on the probe, Obama also sought a review of all prior information potentially relevant to it.
Obama also sought a review of the inventory of watch-list files and an account of procedures and criteria followed for listing or not listing individuals on the terror watch-list.
Nigerian terrorist ‘sexually frustrated’
The 23-year-old Nigerian, charged with attempting to destroy a US aircraft on its final approach to Detroit airport,is a sexually frustrated loner who nurtured fantasies about holy war, reports PTI from London, quoting a British newspaper. The Sun claims to have gathered evidence of the twisted mind of the bomber by retrieving 300 of his chilling messages which he posted on an Islamic portal.
In one, posted in 2005 when he was 19, he wrote: “I will not go into too much details about my fantasy, but basically they are jihad fantasies. I imagine how the great jihad will take place, how the Muslims will win insha’Allah (God willing) and rule the whole world, and establish the greatest empire once again!” In another, he said: “As I get lonely, the natural sexual drive awakens and I struggle to control it, sometimes leading to minor sinful activities. This problem makes me want to get married to avoid getting aroused.”