Faisal Shahzad (file photo)
Faisal Shahzad (file photo)

U.S. authorities are engaged in what the White House calls an active and ongoing investigation into the failed car bomb attack in New York City last Saturday.  President Obama's spokesman faced numerous questions about the suspect in the case, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, and about U.S. airline security:

Among the key questions being asked is how Shahzad was able to board an airliner, which was in the process of departing New York for Dubai before before it was ordered back to the gate, even though he was on the U.S. No Fly list.

In a separate news conference earlier Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder and others were pressed repeatedly on this point.

On a day when U.S. officials acknowledged that Shahzad was placed on the No Fly list just hours before he was arrested, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs asserted that a system with built-in redundancies functioned as designed and ultimately resulted in Shahzad's capture.

"As a course [matter] of how the no fly list works, [U.S.] Customs and Border Patrol identified and apprehended that suspect, so that person was on the no fly list, that plane didn't fly and that individual didn't fly," said Robert Gibbs.

Asked if this was a case of a mistake by the airline, Gibbs said that is part of the investigation underway.  But reporters continued to press about what the incident says about U.S. airline security measures now in force.

According to a Federal complaint filed in Manhattan, the 30-year-old Connecticut man admitted to constructing the bomb after five months of explosives training in Pakistan.  Shahzad was  charged with five counts, including trying to explode a weapon of mass destruction.

White House spokesman Gibbs said the government probe will seek to determine how much time Shahzad spent in Pakistan.  Asked if Pakistan had informed the U.S. that Shahzad spent time at a terrorist training camp, Gibbs said only that the two governments remain in close contact working on a number of issues surrounding the case.

Earlier, President Barack Obama said U.S. officials are trying to find out whether Shahzad has ties to international terrorist groups, and saying Americans will not be terrorized, gave this assurance about the government response.

"Justice will be done, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect the American people," said President Obama.

Asked if Americans should be bracing themselves for a possible successful terrorist attack in the future, White House spokesman Gibbs would only repeat that President Obama and his administration are doing all that they can within their power to prevent anything from happening.  

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