Wow – Apparently the dots WERE connected. Just a bit too slowly to stop Abdulmutallab from getting on board the plan. Instead border officials had plans to question him AFTER the plane landed in Detroit.
Reporting from Washington – U.S. border security officials learned of the alleged extremist links of the suspect in the Christmas Day jetliner bombing attempt as he was airborne from Amsterdam to Detroit and had decided to question him when he landed, officials disclosed Wednesday.
The new information shows that border enforcement officials discovered the suspected extremist ties involving the Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in a database despite intelligence failures that have been criticized by President Obama.
“The people in Detroit were prepared to look at him in secondary inspection,” a senior law enforcement official said. “The decision had been made. The [database] had picked up the State Department concern about this guy — that this guy may have been involved with extremist elements in Yemen.”
Back to you Amsterdam.
In other news, for your entertainment, read this interview from DerSpiegel with Bruce Hoffman, terrorism expert.
Bruce Hoffman is a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and is one of United States’ foremost experts on terrorism. He worked for years on counterterrorism issues at the RAND Corporation think tank and served as a scholar in residence at the Central Intelligence Agency. An updated version of his seminal book, “Inside Terrorism,” was published by the Columbia University Press in the US in 2006 and by S. Fischer Verlag in Germany.
After suggesting that a) al-Qaeda is getting stronger based on all the varieties of threats faced now (loners, sleeper cells, American sleepers) and b) that these small attacks are distractions from something bigger in the pipe he says……get this:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What needs to be done now?
Hoffman: We finally have to take the terrorism threat seriously. We need a flexible response that looks at lone individuals but also larger organizations — and a system that looks more specifically at certain risks.
Yes, now might be a good time.
This other answer to a question gave me pause too:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Obama said he would “not tolerate” intelligence failures. Will we see heads rolling in his staff?
Hoffman: No heads rolled after 9/11. Much more important than finger-pointing is an effort to figure out where the system broke down. For instance, the newly designed counter-terrorism center seemed to be working well but now it turns out the analysts there were not able to connect the dots after the warning about the Nigerian airline terrorist. These are issues we need to examine.
Even terrorist “experts” are going to deflect to Bush on every answer.