January 1st, 2010
10:09 PM ET

Missed signals cleared the way for suspect to board plane

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/30/abdulmutallab.mug.jpg]

Jill Dougherty
CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

To understand how the suspect in the botched terror attack was able to board a plane, you have to understand how the counterterrorism system that President Obama says failed is supposed to work.

The president says the clues were there, and that a fuller, clearer picture of 23-year-old Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab would have emerged if all the bits and pieces had been shared and put together.

"The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America," Obama said.

The president has ordered a top-to-bottom investigation of the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day. The preliminary report is expected Thursday.

One of the key questions is why wasn't the suspect's visa revoked.

The suspect, a Nigerian national, was supposedly on the terrorist watch list. Six weeks ago, his father warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son was becoming radicalized and had gone to Yemen.

The father provided the embassy with his son's name, birth date and passport number. That information was sent in a routine, unclassified cable known as a visa VIPER to the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. tom lewis

    all that was missed. i see three major red flags.paid cash. one way ticket. and the largest red flag was no baggage for a overseas flight. . this should said something was not right. it woluld to me. all else aside.

    January 7, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  2. Mike Oliver

    We must get the Whitehouse security fixed first! If this can not be fixed, then how can we expect airports outside the USA to make sure filghts are safe. Why not set up a final security check point at all major foreign airports that are staffed with American security. Consider having fewer departure points to USA. The goal should be not to allow a bomber on a plane in the first place. Having more security marshalls on planes is after the fact. They can only control a disturbance not stop a bomber.

    Can the best security screening machines detect explosives implanted
    inside a suicide bomber's body. I have read that drug sugglers swallow
    drugs hidden inside condoms. I am sure terrorist can find a way to explode bombs hidden inside their body.

    Thanks for your effort to deliver to news!

    Mike Oliver

    January 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  3. Dawn Bradshaw

    Perhaps someone needs to publicise the lessons learned by US citizens following 9/11! We will no longer sit in our seats, hoping for the best, when we are threatened. We now know there are monstors in our midst. Terrorist should know that we will not wait for someone else to protect us. We will rise out of our seats and do what is necessary!

    January 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm |

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