Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dropping the Ball

Last month, a Somali was arrested trying to bring a syringe and a powdered substance on board an aircraft. The scenario was frighteningly similar to the methods used by Abdul Mutallab on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.
A man tried to board a commercial airliner in Mogadishu last month carrying powdered chemicals, liquid and a syringe that could have caused an explosion in a case bearing chilling similarities to the terrorist plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Somali man — whose name has not yet been released — was arrested by African Union peacekeeping troops before the Nov. 13 Daallo Airlines flight took off. It had been scheduled to travel from Mogadishu to the northern Somali city of Hargeisa, then to Djibouti and Dubai. A Somali police spokesman, Abdulahi Hassan Barise, said the suspect is in Somali custody.

"We don't know whether he's linked with al-Qaida or other foreign organizations, but his actions were the acts of a terrorist. We caught him red-handed," said Barise.

A Nairobi-based diplomat said the incident in Somalia is similar to the attempted attack on the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in that the Somali man had a syringe, a bag of powdered chemicals and liquid — tools similar to those used in the Detroit attack. The diplomat spoke on condition he not be identified because he isn't authorized to release the information.
Multiple media outlets are also reporting that the CIA had intercepted signals of an impending attack.
Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda there were talking about “a Nigerian” being prepared for a terrorist attack. While the information did not include a name, officials said it would have been evident had it been compared with information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.

The government also had more information about where Mr. Abdulmutallab had been and what some of his plans were.

Some of the information was partial or incomplete, and it was not obvious that it was connected, the official said, but in retrospect it now appears clear that had it all been examined together it would have pointed to the pending attack. The official said the administration was “increasingly confident” that Al Qaeda had a role in the attack, as the group’s Yemeni branch has publicly claimed.

Shortly after being briefed, Mr. Obama addressed reporters in his second public statement on the matter in two days, announcing that a review already had revealed a breakdown in the intelligence system that did not properly identify the suspect as a dangerous extremist who should have been prevented from flying to the United States.

“A systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable,” Mr. Obama said. He said he had ordered government agencies to give him a preliminary report on Thursday about what happened and added that he would “insist on accountability at every level,” although he did not elaborate.

Then, there's where al Qaeda is operating and continuing to recruit for jihad. That means looking more closely at Yemen and other failed states like Somalia.

CNN makes it clear that the ball got dropped by the CIA who failed to circulate the information it had obtained to the necessary authorities, including DHS and the TSA, who were in a position to stop Mutallab from boarding.

Reports claiming that Mutallab didn't have a passport when he boarded NW Air Flt. 253 are untrue.
The suspected terrorist who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 Christmas day did present a passport to authorities in Amsterdam before boarding the Detroit-bound plane, Holland's counter-terrorism agency said Wednesday.

Abdulmutallab arrived in Amsterdam on Friday from Lagos, Nigeria. After a layover of less than three hours, he passed through a security check at the gate in Amsterdam, including a hand baggage scan and a metal detector, officials said.

Abdulmutallab was carrying a valid Nigerian passport and had a valid U.S. visa, the Dutch said. His name did not appear on any Dutch list of terror suspects.
The problem is that his flight profile should have raised alarm bells - buying a 1-way ticket in Lagos for Nigeria to Detroit in cash; to say nothing of the warnings received by the CIA and Mutallab's own father contacting law enforcement to warn about his son's actions.

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