News / Africa

US Grand Jury Indicts Airline Attack Suspect

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 29 Jan 2009
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 29 Jan 2009

A U.S. grand jury has indicted the suspect in the December 25 bombing attempt of a U.S. jetliner.

The six-count indictment was filed Wednesday in the state of Michigan.  The suspect, 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder.

He was previously charged with trying to blow up the Northwest Airlines plane for allegedly trying to detonate explosives concealed in his clothing as the plane approached Detroit.  Nearly 300 people were on the flight from Amsterdam. 

The Obama administration says it will release a preliminary report Thursday on the security breach. 

President Obama, after meeting with top security and intelligence officials Tuesday, said the system failed in a "potentially disastrous way."  He said U.S. intelligence agencies had enough evidence to stop Abdulmutallab from boarding the flight but failed to make the necessary connections.

The president has asked for specific recommendations to correct the intelligence failures.  He also promised changes to airport security and screening protocols, and said the nation's no-fly and terrorist watchlists were being updated.

National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair promised to "outthink, outwork and defeat" new terrorist tactics and said intelligence agencies will do what is necessary to prevent future terrorist attacks.

Mr. Obama ordered the reviews to determine how Abdulmutallab could have brought explosives onto the U.S.-bound flight, even after the suspect's father warned U.S. officials about his son's radical views, resulting in Abdulmutallab being placed on a terror watch.

Despite the criticism, the president's aides say the focus is on solving problems, and not on assigning blame to any one intelligence official.

The U.S. government has increased security screening for people traveling "from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism" as well as "other countries of interest," including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  The suspect has reportedly said he trained with al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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