Friday, January 1, 2010

US Security Ignored Bomber-Dads Warnings

Counterterror agency never tried to follow up on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab clues before Flight 253
BY James Gordon Meek

Thursday, December 31st 2009, 4:00 AM

Anti-Terror watchdogs at teh National Counter-Terrorism Center (below) in Tysons Corner, Va., failed to heed red flags about underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to bring down Flight 253.

WASHINGTON - Counterterror officials were told the accused Christmas bomber had possible ties to "Yemen-based extremists" a month before he tried to blow up a jetliner, the Daily News has learned.

The nations's terror watchdogs have been assailed as incompetent in the wake of the near-massacre of almost 300 people by the young Nigerian jihadist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The failure to follow up on the extremist warning is one more blunder in the series of errors.

Instead of reviewing his active U.S. visa, scouring intelligence databases for more dirt on him or checking to see if he bought any plane tickets to America, the name was simply filed away at the National Counter-terrorism Center (NCTC), red-faced officials said yesterday.

Because no one took a closer look, the sum total of intelligence in his file appeared to be what Abdulmutallab's prominent banker father Umaru told State Department diplomats and CIA officers in Nigeria.

"Information at post suggests subject may be involved with Yemen-based extremists," the cable from the diplomats in Abuja to Washington said. "Abdulmutallab has traveled previously to UK [United Kingdom], Rome, Togo and Dubai, UAE [United Arab Emirates]," continued the cable, The News learned.

Yet officials insist analysts in Washington didn't have any legal cause to scrutinize Abdulmutallab.

Though the Nigerian was linked to extremists in Yemen, an Al Qaeda hotbed, "his father never said he was a jihadist," explained one U.S. intelligence official. "Sometimes there is no smoking gun."

But there were plenty of clues: Intelligence that Al Qaeda was plotting a Christmastime spectacular and that an unnamed Nigerian figured in evildoers' plans are among those also unearthed in recent days.

The screwups allowed Abdulmutallab, 23, to get on a plane to Detroit with a powder-liquid explosive stitched into his underwear by an Al Qaeda bomb maker in Yemen. He could not successfully set off the bomb, but he has turned PresidentoObama's government upside down.

The Department of Homeland Security, the Directorate of National Intelligence and the NCTC - all created after 9/11 to prevent future attacks - are in a finger-pointing fight with the State Department and CIA over who failed to connect the dots this time.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair agreed with Obama that the answer is all of them.

The post-9/11 security buildup has made America safer, but "it is clear that gaps remain and they must be fixed," Blair said in a statement.

The latest flap involves a "finished" CIA report from its Nigeria station. It wasn't shared with the terror center as quickly as the embassy's version, which reached the analysts Nov. 20, one day after the father met with U.S. officials.

Had the terror center obtained the report, they might have forced a review of Abdulmutallab's visa or put him on the no-fly list, said a second intelligence official, fuming at the CIA.

"NCTC can only act on information they are actually given," the official said. "CIA sat on its cable for five weeks."

But the first U.S. official shot back that terror center analysts could have searched a computer file that had the raw CIA report and contained the same account from the elder Abdulmutallab as the State Department version.

"Nothing in it talks about terrorist planning," the official said.

An NCTC spokesman did not return several calls for comment.

Both cables listed Abdulmutallab's name, birth date and passport number and the fear he had hooked up with extremists - but not the fact he had an active U.S. visa allowing him to come and go as he pleased.

Related TopicsNigeria
Espionage and Intelligence
United States
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Central Intelligence Agency
War and Conflict
U.S. Department of State
Al Qaeda
Political Policy
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RECENT COMMENTS FROM DAILY NEWS READERS39 comments | See All Comments » To comment, Register or Log In
[Discussion guidelines]
11:08:28 AM
Dec 31, 2009
VeeBee: See, you libs just aren't paying attention to your own spew. If you want to blame this on Bush, then 9/11 must be the fault of Clinton, correct? Same circumstances. However, the world is a much different place after 9/11, therefore, Obama should be putting more focus on terrorism, but that isn't happeneing.

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11:08:54 AM
Dec 31, 2009
RIPLEY reference your 8:32 & 52 AM posts pointing out needlessly again that "Bush did nothing," declares you as a Monday Morning Quarterback and Master of Hindsight. It is dangerous to be looking so far backwards while walking toward a brick wall or a cliff in this Obamanation. I don't blame Obama, bug-eyed helluva job Napo for ***** ups by Nigerians or Holland air travel agencies. Obama's State Department, CIA and others here sure dropped the ball, and Obama has an awful hard time taking meaningful action against his appointed nitwits. Napolitano has had more than enough strikes to be out and on her way back to AZ retirement from the public trough..

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12:28:29 PM
Dec 31, 2009
The blame should go no higher than the brain-dead ticket agent who sold this luggage-less mook a $2K+ ticket for CASH & did not alert security! All the intelligence in the world cannot make up for stupidity at the point of contact!

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2:40:33 PM
Dec 31, 2009
The National Counter-Terrorism Center, FEMA, the DMV . . . why do you think all these government agencies are nothing more than a bureaucratic check-collecting scam? Quota hires, political favor appointments, jobs they can't get fired from . . . just more of the same. I'm sure the slacker that filed Farooq Bin Shabozz Bunglicki's name had to take a two-week vacation after such a hard task. There's our tax dollars hard at work, and meanwhile, real ordinary people had to stop this pile of gorilla biscuits from blowing up a plane, not the so-called terror experts collecting a big payday for doing nothing.

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3:26:51 PM
Dec 31, 2009
topshelfdude ... you obviously surf the web as well as you spell ... not very well. There

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