Obama Links Christmas Day Terrorist Attempt to al-Qaida

U.S. President Barack Obama has, for the first time, publicly blamed an affiliate of the al-Qaida terror network for an unsuccessful plot to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner.  Officials are investigating how American intelligence agencies failed to prevent the botched attack.

In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, President Obama says an al-Qaida-linked group in Yemen gave the suspect the training, equipment and directions to bomb the plane. "It appears that he joined an affiliate of al-Qaida, and that this group-al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula-trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America," he said.

In his most direct public language yet, the president describes the sequence of events leading up to 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly trying to destroy the Northwest Airlines plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25.

The group admitted responsibility in an Internet statement last week.

Mr. Obama says the al-Qaida affiliate has attacked U.S. targets before, including killing an American at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen in 2008.  As a result, he says his administration is working more closely with the government in Yemen. "So, as president, I have made it a priority to strengthen our partnership with the Yemeni government, training and equipping their security forces, sharing intelligence and working with them to strike al-Qaida terrorists," he said.

The U.S. government gave Yemen $67 million in training and support to fight terrorists in 2009.  Mr. Obama says the efforts have been paying off, and will continue to do so. "Training camps have been struck, leaders eliminated, plots disrupted.  And all those involved in the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas must know-you too will be held to account," he said.

Even so, opposition Republicans have been criticizing the president for not getting tough enough on militants and terrorists.  Mr. Obama is defending his administration's efforts to end the war in Iraq and send more troops to Afghanistan. "Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred, and we will do whatever it takes to defeat them and defend our country, even as we uphold the values that have always distinguished America among nations," he said.

The president has been on vacation in his home state of Hawaii for the Christmas and New Year's holidays, but he has received preliminary results of reviews he ordered into terrorist screening procedures. 

After he returns to the White House, Mr. Obama will meet with his top intelligence and homeland security advisers on Tuesday.  Administration officials have said security agencies will be held accountable after the Christmas Day incident.

Also, the U.S. Congress will hold hearings into miscommunication among anti-terror agencies and possible changes in procedures.

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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs