News

    Airliner Attack Reminder of Long Struggle Against Terrorism

    U.S. government officials, members of Congress and terrorism experts say Americans should brace for a long struggle against al-Qaida in the wake of Friday's failed bomb attack on a U.S. jetliner that landed safely in Detroit, Michigan. 

    The latest on the investigation into the foiled terror attack came from President Barack Obama, who is continuing his vacation in Hawaii.

    The president told reporters that a preliminary review of what went wrong in the airliner incident should be completed by Thursday.  But Mr. Obama said it is already clear that what he called a "totally unacceptable" systemic failure had allowed the bombing attempt to take place.

    "What already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security.  We need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system because our security is at stake and lives are at stake," he said.

    Friday's incident aboard a U.S. airliner has served as a reminder about the threat of terrorism - more than eight years after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

    That theme played out on the nation's airwaves Tuesday as lawmakers and experts warned of a long struggle ahead against terrorism in general and al-Qaida in particular.

    Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra is the top Republican on the House of Representatives Select Committee on Intelligence.  He spoke on CBS television's Early Show.

    "The American people have to understand that this threat is real; it continues," he said. "It has been with us for almost 20 years and we need to be on offense.  We need to be forward-leaning.  We need to put in the latest technology.  These folks are not going to go away."

    New information has come to light about the suspect in the attempted bombing on the jetliner, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.   Internet postings reported by various news outlets suggest that the 23-year-old Abdulmutallab was serious about his religious beliefs, and often was lonely and depressed.

    Terrorism experts say that while the attack failed, Abdulmutallab's ability to get explosive materials onboard the aircraft raise serious questions about security procedures.

    Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer lectures on security studies at Georgetown University here in Washington.

    "The fact is that we were badly beaten in this attack," he said. "The only thing that was missing, really, was the dead bodies.  Everything else that al-Qaida would want out of the attack happened.  Americans were terrorized, the expenses of air travel and protection for air travel are going up, and they have proved once again that they are a resilient enemy that we have not defeated or even come close to defeating yet."

    At the same time, Scheuer says, the foiled attack also raises questions about the alleged terrorist.

    "The plot and whatever training this gentleman got probably did come from Yemen and al-Qaida.  But it clearly was not a professional job.  This was not their 'A' team," he said.

    Abdulmutallab allegedly hid the explosive materials in his underwear.  Security experts contend he might have been detected before he got on the flight through the use of advanced imaging equipment that is in limited use in airports because of cost and privacy concerns.

    Tom Blank is a former high-ranking official with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

    "We have got to get over some of the privacy concerns and figure out how to use this technology in a broader way," he said.

    Abdulmutallab's name was included in a broad database of individuals who are suspected of having some link to terrorism.  But he was not included on higher-profile watch lists that might have caught the attention of security screeners.  That raises questions about communication among government agencies and among countries.

    Stewart Baker served in the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush administration.  He says intelligence and security officials need to do a better job of sharing information and acting on it.

    "The lack of communication, the lack of use of good data about who is a potential terrorist to decide what kind of screening they get," he said.

    Abdulmutallab had a valid U.S. visa, even though his father had expressed concerns to U.S. Embassy officials in Nigeria several weeks ago that his son was being radicalized.

    Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says that will be an area of focus as the investigation moves ahead.

    "These visas that are sometimes given a year or two ago, and somebody gets radicalized in the intervening time, and it's important to make sure we go back and take a second look at those.  And I think that is going to be an issue that they will be focusing on in the next five or six weeks," he said.

    Counterterrorism experts say that last week's airliner incident serves as a stark reminder that the United States remains engaged in a long term struggle with terrorists who are determined to attack U.S. targets.

    Juan Zarate was involved with anti-terror efforts with the National Security Council and the Treasury Department during the Bush administration.

    "Thankfully, it was not a successful attack.  But unfortunately, it portends a world in which we have got to look beyond a single theater and realize as we have said all along over the past eight years that we have got a global battle on our hands and an enemy that is able to adapt pretty easily," he said.

    An al-Qaida affiliated group in Yemen claims that Abdulmutallab carried out the attack on their behalf.  That claim has not been independently confirmed.

    In his statement on Monday, President Obama said the U.S. will dismantle and defeat terrorists anywhere who might want to attack the United States.
     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora