TERRORISM -- January 7, 2010 at 9:20 AM ET
Thursday's Headlines: Obama to Speak on Findings; Bomber Tied to Cleric
The American public will learn on Thursday of the government missteps that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to get on a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. The Obama administration is set to release an account of the events that led to the 23-year-old Nigerian man boarding the plane.
At 1 p.m. Thursday, President Barack Obama will speak about the report's findings and recommendations, and unveil new security measures intended to prevent future attacks.
Mr. Obama's national security adviser Gen. James Jones told USA Today that the public will be shocked by the report, says NPR's The Two Way. "The man on the street will be surprised that these correlations weren't made," he said, referring to Abdulmutallab's listing in the database of potential terrorists.
The New York Times offers a timeline of Abdulmutallab's activity in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that the president's remarks will bring the first part of the investigation to a close. No firings over the security breach are expected as of now, however Senate committees will meet later this month to further discuss the debacle.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. border security had intelligence linking Abdulmutallab to Islamic extremists while the suspect was already airborne. They intended to question him after he landed in Detroit.
The new information suggests that border enforcement was able to connect the dots despite intelligence failures and could have prevented Abdulmutallab from boarding the airplane if he had been detected sooner.
White House officials said Wednesday that apprehending him would have been difficult, however, as he was but one of 500,000 names in the suspected terrorist database, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, several news organizations are reporting that Abdulmutallab may have ties to radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was a person of interest in the Fort Hood rampage. According to the Associated Press, Abdulmutallab met with al-Qaida in Yemen between August and early December while studying Arabic. He disappeared for some time, and it is then that he is believed to have trained with militants and possibly come into contact with al-Awlaki.
The New York Times reports that a senior Yemini official, Rashad al-Alimi, the deputy prime minister for national security and defense, confirmed on Thursday that Abdulmutallab had met with Al-Qaida operatives and with al-Awlaki before setting out on his journey.