Obama queries security failings

PRESIDENT Barack Obama is demanding answers on why information was never pieced together by the US intelligence community to trigger red flags about an alleged terrorist involved in a Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.

Officials are looking for failings that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian with suspected ties to al-Qaida, to board the Northwest Airlines flight from Nigeria by way of Amsterdam.

Obama’s criticism came as senior US officials told reporters that intelligence authorities are looking at conversations between the suspect in the failed attack and at least one al-Qaida member.

Obama’s homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, was due to present the president with an early report yesterday.

“There were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have, and should have, been pieced together,” Obama said in a statement made on Tuesday.

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

Senior administration officials said the system to protect the nation’s skies was deeply flawed.

They described a breakdown that would have been much worse had Abdulmutallab been successful and an angry Obama called the situation “totally unacceptable”.


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