Obama vows to keep pressure on Al Qaeda

"We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence," he said in his first State of the Union address on Wednesday evening.

A Nigerian man is suspected of carrying out the attempt to bomb the airliner as it descended toward Detroit on Dec 25. The plot failed when the explosives hidden in his underwear failed to detonate.

Obama said he would continue pressuring Al Qaeda as the US combat role draws to a close in Iraq, where US troops are scheduled to withdraw by the end of August.

He expressed confidence that his plan to deploy 30,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan will improve security there, and he was optimistic that as more Afghan troops are trained they can take responsibility for the country by July 2011.

"There will be difficult days ahead. But I am confident we will succeed," he said.

The Detroit attack prompted a comprehensive review of airport security procedures and brought Al Qaeda's growing presence in Yemen into the international spotlight.
The Obama administration has continued to urge the Yemeni government to crack down on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The alleged airline bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has reportedly told US authorities he received training and the explosive from Al Qaeda, while living last year in Yemen.

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