Leadership (Abuja)

11 January 2010

Nigeria: Abdulmutallab - U.S. Senate Intelligence Panel to Begin Hearing January 21

New York — US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairperson, Dianne Feinstein, has said the Senate Intelligence Panel is in the midst of a review of intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board a flight to Detroit despite being listed in a database maintained by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Centre.

Senator Feinstein said the panel would begin the hearing on January 21, 2010 and will issue a report with findings and recommendations.

She continued that national security officials should simplify the criteria for the no-fly list, noting that any individual who is reasonably suspected of connection to a terrorist group should be barred from air travel.

Feinstein also said that technology needs to be improved to allow analysts to more easily digest the flood of intelligence gathered each day, adding that procedures for revoking visas should also undergo review.

The Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman further suggested that President Barack Obama's administration should consider not repatriating any suspected terrorists to countries where Al-Qaeda has a known presence.

She called on the President not to release any detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Yemen following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a jetliner by a Nigerian man who spent time in Yemen.

Senator Feinstein said she would "tend to agree" with Republican calls for the administration not to repatriate any detainees to countries such as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Afghanistan or Pakistan, where Al-Qaeda is known to have a robust presence.

Obama announced Tuesday that he would suspend the transfers of additional detainees from Guantanamo to Yemen, but Feinstein and the president want him to go further.

The US Senator hinted that between 24 and 28 suspected terrorists released from U.S. custody have returned to terrorist activity, adding that a total of 74 former detainees are engaged in terrorist activity around the world.

"That's bad," said Feinstein. "Here's the reason. They come out of Gitmo and they are heroes in this world [of terrorists]. This world is the only world that will be accepting of them. Therefore the tendency is to go back. The Gitmo experience is not one that leads to rehabilitation," she added.

While reacting to US President Barrack Obama's acknowledgement that some human errors were made during the December 25 Detriot airline attack in which a Nigerian Suspect Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested by security operatives at the airport, the Chairman of the US Senate committee on Homeland and Security, Senator Joe Lieberman demanded that disciplinary action should be taken against those who let airline attack suspect slip through the cracks and get on the Detroit-bound flight.

Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the US Senate committee on Homeland and Security, stated that some people have to be held accountable for the mistakes, the human errors that the president acknowledged that were made, that enabled that Nigerian terrorist to get on that plane to Detroit, adding that some things have to be changed in the system

Senator Lieberman continued that investigations will reveal on which heads should roll.

"But the point is that it seems to me clear that, beginning with the Department of State when the father came into our embassy in Nigeria, not only should that name have been sent to the National Counterterrorism Center, but somebody should have checked the visa list and immediately pulled that terrorist's visa, so he never got on that plane," Lieberman said.

"Secondly, at the National Counterterrorism Center, something went wrong. That is the place we created after 9/11. It served us very well, but it did not in this case. he added.

The US Senator pressed further that if human errors were made, some of the humans who made those errors have to be disciplined so that they never happen again.

Lieberman stressed that al-Qaeda had made more than a dozen attempts to attack the United States in the past year, and "three of them broke through our defenses; two of them successfully killing people"

He cited the slaying of an Army recruiter in Arkansas, the Fort Hood shooting spree and the Dec. 25 attempt to take down Northwest Airlines Flight 253, "which averted disaster only by act of God" he noted.

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