More than eight years after the 9/11 terror attacks, law enforcement against Islamic terrorism still has some large holes, for example allowing known jihadists access to American airplanes.
An official briefed on the attack on a Detroit airliner said Saturday the U.S. has known for at least two years that the suspect in the attack could have terrorist ties.
The official told The Associated Press that the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, has been on a list that includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list is maintained by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center. It includes about 550,000 names.
People on that list are not necessarily on the no-fly list. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said Mutallab was not on the no-fly list.
King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said no federal air marshals were on the flights from Nigeria to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam to Detroit. Mutallab did not go through full-body image screening at either airport, the congressman said. [AP source: US knew of terror suspect, December 26, 2009 ]
The first line of defense, unfortunately, is the US State Department official in Nigeria who handed a travel visa to a man known to have terrorist affiliations. And there are thousands more in State who don't want to insult anyone in the countries where they are stationed.
The father of the al Qaeda terrorist behind Fridayâ€™s attempted explosion aboard a Northwest flight bound for Detroit reported his sonâ€™s fanatical religious views to the U.S. Embassy six months ago, according to a Nigerian news outlet.
The young man, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, is the son of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a former Nigerian minister and bank chairman. He became wary of his sonâ€™s religious beliefs and reported his activities to the U.S. Embassy as well as Nigerian security services half a year ago, according to the Nigerian newspaper This Day.