U.S. Senators during their Homeland Security Committee hearings heard testimony by the country’s upper-echelon law enforcement and anti-terrorism officials — including FBI director Robert Mueller, National Counterterrorism Center director Michael Leiter, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — that none of them were consulted by the White House or the Department of Justice about the decision to process the Christmas Day “Underwear Bomber” in the civilian criminal justice system.
On December 16, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, purchased a round-trip ticket from Lagos, Nigeria to Detroit. Abdulmutallab went through physical security screening conducted by foreign airport personnel at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on December 24 prior to boarding a flight to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This physical screening included an x-ray of his carry-on luggage and his passing through a walk-through metal detector. Abdulmutallab went through additional physical screening, conducted by Dutch authorities, when transiting through Amsterdam to Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, and presented a valid U.S. visa. Abdulmutallab was not on the No Fly or Selectee Lists.
Accordingly, the airline and airport personnel were never alerted to prevent him from boarding the flight or additional physical screening, nor did the IAP officer advise Dutch authorities of any concerns. As with all passengers traveling on that flight, and similar to all other international flights arriving in the United States, CBP evaluated Abdulmutallab’s information while the flight was en route to conduct a preliminary assessment of his admissibility and to determine whether there were requirements for additional inspection. During this assessment, CBP noted that there was a record that had been received from the Department of State, which indicated possible extremist ties.
It did not indicate that he had been found to be a threat, or that his visa had been revoked. CBP officers in Detroit were prepared to meet Abdulmutallab upon his arrival for further interview and inspection. The attack on board the flight failed in no small part due to the brave actions of the crew and passengers aboard the plane.
“The attempted attack on December 25 was a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since September 11, 2001. This Administration is determined to thwart those plans and disrupt, dismantle and defeat terrorist networks by employing multiple layers of defense that work in concert with one another to secure our country. This is an effort that involves not just DHS, but many other federal agencies and the international community as well,” said Secretary Napolitano during her testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
“Customs and Border Protection noted that there was a record that had been received from the Department of State, which indicated [Abdulmutallab had] possible extremist ties. It did not indicate that he had been found to be a threat, or that his visa had been revoked. CBP officers in Detroit were prepared to meet Abdulmutallab upon his arrival for further interview and inspection. The attack on board the flight failed in no small part due to the brave actions of the crew and passengers aboard the plane,” she said.
“Whenever Americans see her face, they are reminded of the incompetence that thrives within the Obama Administration. Napolitano — along with Holder at Justice and Panetta at the CIA — will remain a reminder of an administration that just doesn’t get it,” said former police commander and Marine intelligence officer Mike Snopes.
In the aftermath of the Christmas Day security debacle, Napolitano outlined five recommendations DHS will pursue to upgrade aviation security. President Obama had ordered security reviews following the attempted terrorist attack, including recommendations from the intelligence and security communities.
“The attempted attack on Christmas Day is a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to try to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since Sept. 11, 2001,”said Secretary Napolitano.
“These recommendations will strengthen aviation security