December 27th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
4 years ago

Napolitano: No indication of wider plot in botched airline attack

(CNN) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday there was no indication so far that a botched terror attack on a U.S. airliner was part of a broad international effort.

"Right now we have no indication that it is part of anything larger," Napolitano told CNN's "State of the Union" program.

A lone suspect allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Detroit, Michigan on Christmas Day.

The device apparently failed to detonate and the suspect was subdued.

Napolitano said the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was on a broad security watch list that contains "half a million" names and is shared with airlines and foreign security agencies. However, a lack of specific evidence prevented him from being classified as a greater security risk that would bar him from travel to the United States, she said.

"You need information that is specific and credible if you're going to bar people from air travel," Napolitano said.

Despite a possible tragedy, Napolitano said the response system worked as passengers and crew avoided panic and subdued the suspect while authorities notified other flights in the air of the situation and kept the air transport system operating.

"The whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly," Napolitano said.

Security screening has been increased in the wake of the incident, with different procedures at different airports to prevent predictability, Napolitano said.

"While we continue to investigate the source of this incident, the traveling public should be very confident of what we're doing now," she said.

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. TBA

    Note that this happens right after the TSA leak the files. TSA division is a make up of morons. Netherlands airport personal epically failed to do screening, they need to up their game. If they had bomb sniffing dogs then they would've caught this guy.

    December 27, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Swishbone

    Dare I be so cynical as to suggest that the Obamists were actually behind this plot to distract America from the Christmas Eve medical care rape by his minions in congress. If Mr. Obama can be chums with Bill Ayers, the Rev Wright, Sunsteen, ad nauseum the fact that Obamists arranged for this "terrorist" attack is not beyond belief at all.

    December 27, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. jules sand-perkins

    I'm not confident of anything this administration is doing now about national security, and I wasn't confident at the time of Ft. Hood.
    I was confident under President Bush.
    My confidence in President Obama is that he will continue to buy votes with entitlement handouts while cutting funds for the health care of seniors, who are now aware of his plans.
    National defense should be our first priority, not handouts in exchange for a movie-star president's second term and "legacy."

    December 27, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  4. billy123

    Now will Congressman King please stop his on air attach aganist President Obama for not rushing in front of the TV camera like President George W. Bush.

    December 27, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. Well Janet,

    Did you consider the possiblity that Obama has allowed his attention to be distracted, that his unwillingness to be decisive in regards to Afghanistan and Iraq, his timidness in dealing with Iran and North Korea and his demonstrated submission to China and Russia has sent a signal to our enemies that we are weakened and once again attacks on our home soil will be tolerated?

    He's another Jimmy Carter. Apologizing to our enemies, increasing our deficit and raising out taxes (that comes next).

    December 27, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Hendrik


    They'll be coming to take you away in a straight jacket soon.

    December 27, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  7. Robin in Tampa, FL

    I am absolutely livid at her response. It should not have come down to the passengers subduing this man. The problem is we have a no-fly list but it's not up-to-date and it's poorly enforced. Furthermore If this guy was on one of their watch lists why didn't the Airport get this information and do a more thorough search of this man?

    December 27, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  8. How Stupid are you?

    How stupid is this administration?

    We have had two terror or attempted terror attacks recently. The jerk at Fort Hood had connections to terror organizations, so did this jerk on the Detroit bound plane.
    And they want to sit in Washington and Hawaii and say, there was or is not a bigger plot. Of course there is, these people will NOT stop until they are stopped. They have one goal, kill americans.

    How stupid,,, the terror will not stop until Obama grows a few gonads and blast a few them them right to hell. They know Obama and his people are wimps. Obama wants to talk about it, sing around the camp fire and play nice. The liberals want to let all the gitmo people free, and complain when a murdering terrorist gets a bloody li[p when the Navy seals bust his behind.

    All you jerks in Washington, you do not think there is a bigger plot.
    HA HA
    I do not want to see it happen, but it will. Terror will come time and time again until Obama stands up to the punks. But he will not, he has NO CLUE how to deal with terror.

    December 27, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  9. Independent in IA

    But it certainly won't stop the government from stepping on a few more of our rights as citizens and human beings...

    December 27, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  10. ann

    These people should be stopped long before the are on American soil.
    More training should be done with TSA Also We could use a finger print system to get on board of an airplane. Make finger prints registered around the world if you travel overseas anywhere

    December 27, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  11. nate

    There are some insane people posting on here, right Swishbone and Well Janet?

    December 27, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  12. penobscot

    This act of "terrorism" is obviously an act to promote Obama's Surge American dummies into wanting more troops in Afghanistan. Easy to see!

    December 27, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Obama is a wimp

    I will not say Obama should have went on TV or anything. But right then and there, as soon as they found out this guy had connections to terror groups.

    Obama should have issued a statement,,,,,,, it is over. You attacked Fort Hood, you now tried to attack INNOCENT people again on US soil.

    It is now over,,,, we will eliminate you. You tried to hurt us again.
    Do not tread on me,,,,,,,,,, remember Hiroshima.

    December 27, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. Todd Smith can almost see the gloating dripping from the mouths of Bushies...I guess a Christmas attack on the US is exactly what you wanted. Thanks for the patriotism. For those who can count...there are still roughly 3000 fewer innocent people killed on this President's watch than the previous one's...

    December 27, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  15. roig

    Clearly the same problems that bedeviled the US at the time of 911 are still with us-no one is connecting the dots. We were warned about this individual by none other than his father a highly credible individual who had been a government minister in Nigeria and the founder and head of one of its most important banks and yet the son was still permitted to have a visa to make unlimited visits to the US.

    Heads should role at the incompetent NSA/TSA including at the highest levels. After all, these are the clowns who just released their entire security manual on the Internet. I am confident that their incompetence will be covered up.


    December 27, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  16. TCM

    nate, – they're not reaching...perhaps you're too saturated with Obama-aid to see reality for what it is; a Homeland Security director that wants to call terrorism "a manmade disaster," to soften relations with radical Islam (per Obama's request)...too many liberals think that if they cover their eyes, the monster will go away...well, wake up and face reality. Obama's the most anti-American president EVER...and his mission is to destroy the foundation of this country and create some sort of world order...that may suffice his ego. Supporters like you, ignorant to the facts, are what he's countingon.

    December 27, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. Big Joe

    Sad to say, in time we will be had again. At that time, health care reform will look like the least of our problems.

    December 27, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. BoMarc507

    Swishbone – "Dare I be so cynical as to suggest that the Obamists were actually behind this plot to distract America from the Christmas Eve medical care rape by his minions in congress."

    You are an idiot. You oughta stop smoking so much crack and learn to pay attention to how the world really works. In fact, since you think the President is SO dangerous, why don't you move overseas for the next 8 years (or forever) until you can "dare" to trust ANY AMERICAN PRESIDENT. You seem to think this was not a REAL "terrorist" attack. We would all be interested in your reaction if this had happened right next to you while YOU were on an airplane.

    December 27, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  19. Howard

    I flew flight 253 exactly one week previously. The security at the KLM/NW/Delta though they had 2 security screening areas, one at passport control and another at the actual gate and a personal interview failed to discover 2 significant items I had that were inadvertently left in my hand luggage which were found on the Miami outbound flight to London on BA.

    December 27, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. Chad

    Obama is too busy dealing with health care and closing GITMO instead of keeping our country safe. One terrorist attack and one attempted terrorist attack since he became president.

    December 27, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  21. Another Liberal

    "He's another Jimmy Carter. Apologizing to our enemies, increasing our deficit and raising out taxes (that comes next)."

    As opposed to Bush who made us more enemies, cut taxes for the rich, and built a two-war military complex that brought us to a soaring record deficit?!?!

    Remember....Clinton had the budget balanced before Bush took office!!

    December 27, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  22. Scott, Tucson

    Janet..the wider plot here is that Muslims want to kill Americans and all other non-believers period!

    December 27, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. guyachs

    An administration that doesn't use terror to terrorize the American people? No jacking the alert levels up and down to keep the people in a state of panic? What's wrong with this administration?

    December 27, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Tony

    The ball was dropped. A bit of a simplification considering the number of lives at stake. An investigation into this mess needs to be a top priority. Who/what failed? Was it a combination of errors by the US and foreign authorities? Did the US have the information and fail to act? Did fundamental communication amongst domestic and foreign authorities break down? Is there a systematic problem?

    If this person was on the Watch List, the US should have had the passenger manifest prior to the planes arrival in US airspace. Who missed this? Did some sleepy analyst or, worse still, some political hack not make the connection that a passenger on a Watch List originating in Yemen was heading into the US?

    We need answers and transparency. Also, anyone have guess why the "terror alert" levels haven't been raised? My research indicates that the alert should have been raised several months ago and remain in effect for at least the next two years.

    These are dangerous people with deadly intentions. We cannot continue to depend on "luck" to prevent tragedies.

    Message to Homeland Security and all other related agencies (i.e.: FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.): WAKE UP! America needs your vigilance!

    December 27, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. Mr Joshua

    Although I do believe that all the Federal agents are doing their collective best to stop this sort of attack I think if Obama said at least something it would sent a message that he is paying attention. First he basically ignores the real motive behind the Fort Hood Attack now not a peep. What kind of message is that sending to the terrorists?

    December 27, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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