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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora