January 2nd, 2010
12:20 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama ties Nigerian terror suspect to al Qaeda

(CNN) - President Barack Obama linked the man behind a botched Christmas Day airline bombing to an al Qaeda affiliate based in Yemen on Saturday.

The president pledged that everyone involved in the attack would be held accountable. He also highlighted his administration's attempts to crack down on extremist enclaves in Yemen, and reiterated his longstanding promise to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" al Qaeda.

Obama has been criticized by some political opponents for not responding more aggressively to a botched December 25 attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan.

Authorities say 23-year-old Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab tried to ignite explosives smuggled aboard the plane in his underwear. Obama confirmed Saturday that AbdulMutallab recently traveled to Yemen and that "it appears that he joined an affiliate of al Qaeda."

The group "al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" apparently trained AbdulMutallab, "equipped him with ... explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America," Obama said.

"This is not the first time this group has targeted us," Obama noted. Recently, he said, "they have bombed Yemeni government facilities and Western hotels, restaurants and embassies - including our embassy in 2008."

"I've made it a priority to strengthen our partnership with the Yemeni government - training and equipping their security forces, sharing intelligence and working with them to strike al Qaeda terrorists," he said.

Obama promised that "all those involved in the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas must know - you too will be held to account," Obama said in his weekly address.

"Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred, and ... we will do whatever it takes to defeat them and defend our country."

Obama, currently on vacation with his family in Hawaii, spoke with Homeland Security Assistant John Brennan on Thursday to review preliminary assessments of the federal government's inability to prevent the Christmas Day attack.

AbdulMutallab had a valid, two-year multiple-entry visa into the United States - despite the fact that his father had twice spoken to at least one representative of the CIA at the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria about his son's increasingly extremist views.

A report detailing that information was prepared but not circulated outside the agency, a reliable source told CNN. Had that information been shared, AbdulMutallab might have been denied access to the flight, the source said.

The State Department announced Thursday it was directing American embassies around the world to include information on whether a person has a U.S. visa when they send special cables to Washington containing information on potentially suspicious individuals.

Obama also recently spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to receive an update on a federal review of "detection capabilities and ... enhanced security measures" put in place since the attempted bombing.

A new Transportation Security Administration directive requires airlines to physically pat down all passengers boarding planes bound for the United States and inspect their carry-on bags.

The directive also gives airlines the discretion to take other measures to prevent people from secretly assembling or igniting bombs on aircraft. Those measures include prohibiting people from keeping pillows or blankets on their laps during the final hour of a flight.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Republicman


    Oh yea, we can say that, some islamic extremist may be affended. Let's just give them $$$$ to train and buy bomb making supplies from Iran. Thanks Obuma, you make me feel sooo safe.

    January 2, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Jerry Eversole

    Obama will force X-ray machines into Airports. "now" he has his transparancy

    January 2, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Tony in Maine


    A President who thinks before he talks. Unique in this century.

    January 2, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. pity

    Poor Obama. Deep in his heart he has sympathy for those terrorists. He does not even want to call them terrorists. He said they are Extremists. He has tried very hard to show he is different from Bush, but those terrorists don't buy that. I suggest he should go to Yeman to bent his back to 90 degree and apologize to them to see if they can be nice to U.S.

    January 2, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Reaganomics Leads To Feudalism

    @ all of you cons out there who still can't accept the fact that Barack Obama is our President, and was elected President by a solid majority of the American people; to you I say THIS:

    If Al Gore, the guy who actually won the Nov. 2000 election, would have been allowed to take his rightful place as POTUS in Jan. of 2001, not only would we NOT be in the mess we are in right now, but it is very likely that Barack Obama would not have been elected President last year.

    Why do I say this? Because the election of Barack Obama as POTUS was a direct reaction to the incompetence and abuses of the Bush administration. George W. Bush's disastrous Presidency is THE reason why Barack Obama is President today.

    You cons never should have stolen the election from Al Gore in 2000. By doing so, you only ended up screwing yourselves in the long run.

    As Randolph Carter likes to say, "Have a nice day."

    January 2, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Under Bush, we were kept safe from Jan 2001 to early Sept 2001, then 9-11, the anthrax mailings, the shoe bomber, an unnecessary war against Iraq, torture, killings at colleges, 45,000 dying each year without access to affordable health care. Quite a record of ineptness.

    January 2, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Hugo

    Didn't he immediately admit that he was an Al Qaeda operative and received the device in Yemen for a terrorist cell? Don't worry we are all safe the "Constitutional Scholar" is on the case!

    January 2, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Fire Napolitano


    January 2, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  9. Debby

    Obama is a week late and dollar short. We knew this the day after Christmas. Boy this guy is really on the ball. LOL

    January 2, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. Albert K. L.A., CA

    Obama will always be criticized by Republicans for "not responding more aggressively" to the problems left behind by Bush. They don;t want him to think things out before opening his mouth. They want a knee-jerk response like, ""Bring 'em on,” “Wanted, dead or alive.” “You can run but you cannot hide."

    January 2, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. You have to be kidding me !!!!

    Well lets see,

    First sentence, Obama linked the suspect to al Qaeda.

    Well DUH. The majority of the American public had this figured out within a few minutes of hearing the report on Xmas day. This was a no brainer in many eyes.

    Obama said "This is not the first time this group has targeted us,"

    Well DUH. How long did it take Obama and his administartion to figure this one out. Again, most of America, knows this. Real educated comment there Obama. Gee whiz, your right on the ball with this terror thing, aren't you?

    Obama pledged all involved would be held accountable. What is he going to do, catch them, talk real nice to them, lord knows we can not give them a bloody lip like the Navy Seals did to a terror suspect.
    After he talks nice to them, we can send them to a prison somewhere nice and then let them go back to Yemen in a few years. After we talk nice to them.

    Now they say they will pat down all folks coming to the US on a plane. Hey, here is a simple plan. If your not a USA citizen, ride a boat over here. Your not flying into our airspace on an airplane. If you have business here, use a phone, the internet, a PC cam, there is PLENTY of modern technology they do not have to fly here.

    Ok, lets say you have a visa, and your not a US citizen. Be prepared to be run through every type of scan known to man. If you do not like it, ride a boat. Yep, profile the bast***ds. Toss politiclly correct out the window before hundreds die with the next attempt.

    And this crap of not letting people go to the bathroom the last hour of flight. Yea, tell that to the 2 or 3 year old child. Tell that to the baby with a full diaper. Tell that to the little old lady and the person with health problems involving intenstinal issues.
    I can see maybe the last 15 minutes, but an hour. cmon. Stupid.

    January 2, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. Indy

    Don't forget to add Limbaugh,Palin, Hannity, Beck to your terrorist list !

    January 2, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    President Obama handled the situation correctly: He ordered an investigation to gather the facts, so that our response is appropriate, not only in regard to fixing the security lapses, but also in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

    Thanks for your hard work, Mr. President – keep it up!

    January 2, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Alan Goldstein

    Hmmmm. I guess with Limpballs still not back on the radio, his "Dittosheep" have nothing to spew.
    Go Obama.

    January 2, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Bush's response to the shoe bomber took 6 days, not 8 minutes. You right wingnuts cannot believe what Fox tells you. You are so naive.

    January 2, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Hammerer

    What a revelation! And only took a little over a week to discover that nugget. This administration is on the ball. Little wonder terrorist quiver in their boots with this leadership making policy.
    One word for it, totalty incompetent.

    January 2, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. joe smith

    be careful, Mr. President; falling into the trap of allining yourself to a idiology that vaporises when put under the scope of truth..remember the argruement for WMD..just look at who may be promoting this plot to you, and their motives..I can think of a couple parties who would like nothing better, than for you to go over the edge on this one..

    January 2, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. MJM

    Now Obama knows a little bit of what Bush went through with 9/11. It was only by God's grace that man did not succeed with his intentions. Since this is only a fracton of 9/11 Obama better get himself in gear.

    January 2, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Conumdrum

    Obama calls this an "attempted act of terrorism." I guess he didn't get the memo from his own Cabinet member Janet Napolitano that these aren't terrorist activities, these are "domestic incidents."

    January 2, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Jen Scaife

    Obama forgot to mention that it is Bush's fault. I guess it's because of the pina coladas while on vacation?

    January 2, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. Artie

    Speak more clearly? Did I hear Obama say it was al Qaeda and this was a war ? Seems to me the dems labeled it a police matter carried out by misunderstood unfortunates taken advantage of by the bad old "Bushy" USA !

    January 2, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. Paul from Phoenix

    Funny, it seems like his father made that link before the attempt. But I guess after all that time in Hawaii, Obama the Savior is here to tell us all what we already know.

    Interesting how he was awakened immediately to be told he won the Nobel prize, how he immediately stopped his golf game because his friend and playing partner's son cut his lip, but his staff couldn't be bothered for three hours to tell him about this bombing attempt. And then, it took three days before he even made a statement, after Napolitano came out and said the system worked? THE SYSTEM WORKED???????

    This guy is a joke. Unfortunately, the joke's on us for another 3 years. Seriously, somebody defend the actions of this administration after reading my previous paragraph.

    January 2, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Silence Dogoode

    Duh! Did you call his Father? The only reason he should be speaking with Napolitano is to get her resignation.... Obama is dumber than a box of hair....

    January 2, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. Jay1975

    Wow, he ties the attempted attack to al Qaeda just one week after they admit to it. Quick one we have here.

    January 2, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. ib

    Why is Obama still on vacation when we are having attacks on this country?? He should be in DC and stay there for a least one week with flying somewhere so he can really see what is going on. He should start by replacing the so called head of Homeland Security who is way in over her head. This one he can't blame on Bush but the liberals will try so they can cover Obama's butt.

    January 2, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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