After a failed attempt to blow up an American plane, US President Barack Obama has said that there is a ‘systemic failure’ of the country’s seucurity.
His remarks came after he was informed about more missed signals and uncorrelated intelligence that could have prevented a would-be bomber from boarding a flight for the United States.
Holidaying in Hawaii, Obama was informed by a private briefing on Tuesday morning that there was a variety of information with the government before the failed bid of bombing that would have been a clear warning sign had it been shared between agencies, said a senior official.
However, details regarding what president learned during briefing are unclear.
While addressing reports, shortly after being briefed, Obama announced in his second public statement on the matter in as many days that a review already had revealed a breakdown in the intelligence review system that did not properly identify the suspect as a dangerous extremist who should have been prevented from flying to the US.
“A systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable,” Obama said.
The president said that he had ordered government agencies to give him a preliminary report on Thursday about what happened and added that he would ‘insist on accountability at every level’, although he did not elaborate.
Obama alluded to the intelligence in his statement. “Had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged,” the president said. “The warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.”
Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Christmas that leaders of a branch of al-Qaida there were talking about ‘a Nigerian’ being prepared for a terrorist attack.
They said that it did not involved a name, but it would still have been evident, had it been compared to information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with attempt to detonate a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. The government also had more information about where Abdulmutallab had been and what some of his plans were.
Some of the information at the time was partial or incomplete and it was not obvious that it was connected, the official said, but in retrospect it now appears clear that had it all been examined together it would have pointed to the pending attack.
The official said that the administration was ‘increasingly confident’ that al-Qaida had a role in the attack, as the group’s Yemeni branch has publicly claimed.