News

    Obama Vows to Disrupt and Dismantle Terrorists in Wake of US Plane Incident

    U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States will use every element of its national power to thwart and defeat enemies seeking to launch terror attacks.  Mr. Obama's remarks came in the wake of Friday's foiled bomb attack on a U.S. airliner.

    President Obama made a brief statement in Hawaii where he and his family are vacationing for the Christmas holiday.

    The president outlined a series of steps designed to enhance airline security in the wake of Friday's incident in which a Nigerian national allegedly tried to detonate explosives aboard a Northwest Airlines jet en route from Amsterdam to Detroit.

    Mr. Obama sought to reassure Americans in the wake of the incident that the government is doing all it can to protect citizens from terrorist attacks and to keep up the pressure on those who would attack the United States.

    "We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us -- whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland," Mr. Obama said.

    A group known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the airline attack in an Internet statement on Monday.  There was no independent verification of the claim by the group, which said the bombing attempt on the airliner was in response to U.S. efforts targeting al-Qaida in Yemen.

    President Obama said he has ordered a review of the process of how terror suspects are added to the government's terror watch list and the so-called no fly list.

    The suspect being held in connection with the attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was listed in a government intelligence database that includes those with possible links to terrorism.  But he was not included on the terror watch list or the no fly list.

    Abdulmutallab is charged with trying to detonate explosives aboard the Northwest Airlines flight.  The suspect suffered burns as he attempted to ignite an  explosive material known as PETN.  Abdulmutallab was restrained by passengers and crew.  He is now being held in a prison in Michigan.

    Abdulmutallab bought his plane ticket with cash and traveled with little luggage -- indications that often trigger the attention of security officials.  He did have a valid U.S. visa, even though his name was in a government database of people who might have terrorist ties.  That is one of several aspects of the case that U.S. officials are investigating.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke on NBC television's "Today" program.

    "How did this individual get on the plane?  Why wasn't the explosive material detected?  What do we need to do to change perhaps the rules that have been in place since 2006 for moving somebody from the generic TIDE [i.e., Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment] data base to a more elevated status?  All of that is under review right now," Napolitano said.

    Abdulmutallab's family says their son cut off contact with them months ago.  And the suspect's father raised concerns with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria that his son was becoming radicalized.

    Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says that should have raised concerns about Abdulmutallab's visa status.

    "There was a point in the last month that this individual's father came to the embassy and gave them some information.  At that point, I think, someone should have looked at the visa that had been previously given and suspended it," Chertoff said.

    Government prosecutors want to obtain a DNA sample from the suspect, but a federal judge has postponed a hearing to consider that request until January 8.

    In the wake of the incident, airline and airport security measures have been tightened in the U.S. and abroad.

    This woman arrived in the United States on Monday from Europe and described what she went through with security checks.

    "He went through each person's carry-on baggage.  They did pat you down.  An hour before we landed, we could not get up out of our seats and everything that we had had to be stowed," she said.

    Security experts say more precise imaging machines may have detected the explosive material that Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to ignite, but those machines are costly and are in limited use at most airports.


    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.