In what could have been a Christmas day horror, Customs and Border Protection officers apprehended a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist who boarded a Northwest flight bound for Detroit from Nigeria with a stop in Amsterdam. The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, ducked security in Amsterdam by carrying the explosives on his person, possibly sewn into his clothing.
Passengers on flight 253 claim the suspected terrorist began to act suspiciously as the plane commenced its decent into the Detroit region. When travelers heard a popping noise similar to firecrackers and saw flames they wasted no time in subduing the alleged- Nigerian terrorist, holding him down until the plane landed in Detroit.
Former Northwest airline pilot and aviation security expert for the airline, Glen E. Winn explained it was sheer luck this plane didn’t blow up. “This plane was at a critical mode upon the final approach phase where the air inside the aircraft was very unstable. The pilot and crew should be commended for getting the plane onto the runway in one piece.” He goes on to place the blame for this Christmas day incident squarely on the American government. “The system broke down starting with the terror watch list and continued at every check point from Nigeria through Amsterdam.”
“This alleged attack on a U.S. airplane on Christmas Day shows that we must remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism at all times,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Had this alleged plot to destroy an airplane been successful, scores of innocent people would have been killed or injured. We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously, and we will use all measures available to our government to ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is brought to justice.”
It is also worth pointing out that President Obama has failed to make an official statement regarding this national security failure. While he and his family vacation and enjoy the beautiful Hawaiian weather, he has chosen to let his senior cabinet members make statements about this incident drawing the ire of many Americans who remain scared to fly as the holiday season winds down. It appears a notable new pattern is emerging with Obama regarding his silence where terrorist activity is concerned though he has shown no hesitation to address any other issue inane or otherwise and regularly requests camera time something his predecessors did not do.
Despite a Nigerian man being able to board a Northwest airliner with explosive chemicals (PETN or pentaerythritol similar to what shoe bomber Richard Reid used) headed for Detroit which is home to the largest concentration of Muslim population (Dearborn-located within minutes of airport) in the country, Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said, “The system worked.”
However, the alleged terrorist threw up many red flags along the way and the result was the U.S. failed to connect the dots; he paid in cash, had no baggage and was recently placed on a terrorist watch list. All this intel should have caused red flags, but the era of “political-correctness” allowed Abdulmutallab to slip onto an American bound airplane says Steven Emerson a terrorism expert who has written multiple books about terrorism.
Making the rounds on the Sunday morning shows, Napolitano stated that it was important to remember, “Once the incident happened, everything that was supposed to happened, happened. The passengers reacted appropriately, the crew acted correctly and within an hour to 90 minutes all 128 flights in the air nearby were notified. The system has worked very, very smoothly,” she explained.
According to Janice Kephart of the Center for Immigration Studies, “Secretary Napolitano has a substantially narrow definition of ‘system’- she is simply referencing the airline doing its job alongside FAA once the incident occurred- rather than recognizing that the ‘system’ includes our immigration, intelligence and detection systems which all utterly failed to connect the dots and assure a revoked visa, a no fly listing and a substantial cache of intelligence from the terrorists father and the British intelligence service, both of which should have held high credibility with the U.S. and heightened the alert for this young man.”
“This terrorist is evidence of terrorist travel 101; abusing the loopholes in our ability as a government to properly screen identity, intelligence and a person prior to boarding a plane in a foreign country. There is no excuse for this. The ‘system’ failed miserably and having our Homeland Security Secretary indicate otherwise leaves us nowhere other than Bin Laden and the Taliban laughing at our government’s sheer stupidity. I suggest she read the 9/11 Commission monograph on Terrorist Travel. This terrorist’s story is an even worse failure than the 9/11 immigration story. And she needs to own up to it before the next one succeeds.”
Responding to the latest terrorist attack, airlines quickly put in place new rules; they will no longer hand out blankets and passengers will not be able to leave their seats one-hour before landing.
“The airline response is absurd,” Kephart said. “This is a problem of the no fly list- I believe does not directly check the FBI terror watch list; and that TSA either wasn’t doing its job or the equipment wasn’t sufficient (remember the TSA manual was available to download a few weeks ago and that tells the world exactly what TSA equipment will pick up and what it won’t). This sounds an awful lot like the 9/11 failure of government agencies to connect the dots. There is a whirlwind of government failure here,” Kephart finishes.
When the topic of terrorist attacks arise it goes without saying that the 9/11 surviving family members will have something to add and this incident was no different. Peter Gadiel, of the 9-11 Families for a Secure America stated this latest attack proves the “continuing incompetence of the U.S. government shining through. The government is not functioning and this event is a result of their failure to take this problem seriously. The American people need to wake-up to the fact that all this supposed security is just window dressing.”
When asked about the upcoming hearings that will investigate this matter, Gadiel said this was nothing more than a kangaroo court. “Until we enact Secure ID and figure out who is in this country, these hearings will be nothing more than reshuffling of the chairs.”
Near disaster impacts border expert & family
The handling of this event was of little comfort for the family of border security expert Andy Ramirez who were traveling to Detroit at the same time as the incident on Northwest flight 253. His family was en route to Michigan to visit with family over the holidays. They had spoken upon arriving safely in Detroit a couple of hours after the flight from Amsterdam had landed.
Ramirez said when he contacted his family to discuss what happened; they were surprised having been unaware as to what had taken place prior to their own landing.
“I talked with my family after I saw this come on the news and this hit home for us. They are very nervous about their flight home given the fact that this incident just happened. We are all also concerned that this incident could have been a probe by the terrorists. Outside local Detroit media (and this reporter) nobody has factored in the Dearborn Islamic enclave and the potential for moles to be on the ground. Dearborn is within mere minutes of Detroit Metro airport. Since 2004, I have told my family that when traveling to always be aware of what is going on around them and remember that terrorists do not take days off,” said Ramirez.
“What has hit us is the fact it could have been their flight, and our family. Nothing prepares you for such things because when you travel frequently, you tend to take things for granted. It is a reminder of how little is being done to secure our nation and how our government has left our people at risk. All these years after 9-11, we’ve been reactive, never proactive in addressing security.”
When Ramirez was asked his opinion of the incident, he replied that the biggest surprise is not the incompetence of this terrorist being on the aircraft given the fact our Homeland Security is a complete joke led by incompetent bureaucrats who got their positions due to cronyism and participation in sex-rings.
Detroit also has a number of key terrorist hard targets such as; the Big Three or the automotive industry headquarters, high-profile high-capacity sporting events including “the Big House” (University of Michigan Stadium); where on any given Saturday in the fall more than 104,000 spectators are cheering on the home team. Ironically the suspected terrorist was treated at University of Michigan Medical Center for burns he received from the explosive device.
“I’ve been identifying internal corruption, incompetence, and security breakdowns for more than five years and have testified as to those very facts before Congress. Rather than investigate the indisputable facts that have been presented and demand accountability from the Executive Branch, Congress has given the American people lip-service and bulls**t hearings about steroids in baseball and the Bowl Championship Series. Let’s not forget that DHS has failed countless security audits and experienced personnel that were purged by the agency or those in the know were required to take early retirement. What will it take for someone to get off their butts in D.C. and do something about it? Or do we have to bury more Americans, perhaps families like mine, to fix problem that will continue beyond flight 253. The blood of Americans lost will be on their hands,” concluded Ramirez.
Terror attacks on the rise
Some contend the rise in terror attacks this year are in direct response to the Obama Administration’s luke-warm reaction to terrorists in general. In the first days of the Obama presidency, terms like “terrorist” were banned from press releases and press briefings. “Terrorism is real and the Obama Administration has downplayed terrorism and did away with the word,” explained Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI).
However, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) said the dozen attacks so far this year are reason for concern. “Most were prevented due to diligent law enforcement work; Three attacks were successful, the Army recruiter who was murdered in Little Rock, Major Hasan’s murder spree at Fort Hood and this current one.”
Lieberman continued to explain, “The fact that this guy made it through screening is alarming.” He also questioned the fact an alleged Nigerian terrorist’s inclusion on a watch list didn’t ring any alarm bells.
Security expert Winn also pointed out the fact that there have been at least 15 major terrorist attacks around the world, not including the obvious ones taking place in the war-torn Middle East.
It has also been reported by Newsweek that Abdulmutallab was recently declined a visa from our close ally England and was allowed to keep his multi-entry visa for the United States even though his own father, a well-respected banker in Nigeria, reported to U.S. State Department officials that his son may want to inflict harm to Americans.
In a joint statement from DHS and TSA Napolitano said; “I am grateful to the passengers and crew aboard Northwest Flight 253 who reacted quickly and heroically to an incident that could have had tragic results. The Department of Homeland Security immediately put additional screening measures into place- for all domestic and international flights- to ensure the continued safety of the traveling public. We are also working closely with federal, state and local law enforcement on additional security measures, as well as our international partners on enhanced security at airports and on flights.”
The federal agencies encouraged American people to continue their planned holiday travel, but to be observant, aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement officials immediately.
Many security gurus suggest full- body scans would have prevented anyone from boarding a plane with explosives attached to their bodies. There are approximately 40 of these machines in use in the United States, but the cost is still too high to add the body scanners to all U.S. airports. Conversely, opponents feel the full-body scan is too revealing and imposes possible complications if the scan is somehow released to the public at large and explained the use of these machines was not worth it.
Senator Lieberman disagreed and pointed out that Iraq was yesterday’s war, Afghanistan is today’s war and if the U.S. does act now to preempt in Yemen, it will be tomorrow’s war. (Earlier this year the Obama Administration released six Gitmo detainees to terrorist-safe haven Yemen.)
Republican lawmaker and ranking member of Department of Homeland Security committee Rep. Peter King (R-NY) says he will ensure this attempted terrorist attack is taken seriously. “When something like this happens it’s important to go back and take a look at it and learn our lessons,” he said.
Considering President Obama’s stance on terrorism, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this incident will be treated as any other law enforcement issue. The mere fact that the Nigerian was read is rights and assigned an attorney will negate any form of interrogation and American’s will not gain access to who, what and why this individual tried to blow up a U.S. airliner or if he was working with al-Qaeda cells in Yemen. “The fact we are not treating these guys as enemy combatants is a mistake, they are at war with us,” says Winn.
Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard concurs, “We are not treating this like an enemy-combatant and now he’s (suspected Nigerian terrorist) lawyered up and we will never know any of the important details.” He further explained the PR-arm of the White House is in full damage-control mode which spotlights the President’s inability to grasp that terrorists want to do harm to America, even under the helm of a new “global president.”
Former CBP Commissioner Ralph Basham also made a statement regarding this latest incident. “Is this troubling- yes? Shocking, no.” He explained that the CBP has dedicated employees, but they need the right tools in order to accomplish their jobs; first they need good intelligence and second the latest technology (body scans).
As far as the terrorist watch lists, they are only as good as the information contained in them contends Basham. “This time the information contained in them wasn’t sufficient enough to deny entry and the break down (in communication) continues,” he said.
Basham’s comments raised the ire of border expert Ramirez. “Former Commissioner Basham is once again talking out of both sides of his mouth and he damn well knows this is not shocking because he is partly responsible for doing nothing to correct these problems during his tenure at CBP. He is an incompetent ‘yes man.’ How can CBP get the right tools needed when they refuse to train their officers properly and promote America’s best up the chain of command. What they did is force the best into early retirement and compromised public safety in the process. Their emphasis has been reducing wait times and turning law enforcement officers into a customer service clerks.”
According to Ramirez, over the next few weeks and months were going to see a lot of dog and pony shows and knee jerk reactions, however, a false sense of security will continue and will do nothing to ease travel worries or God forbid the anguish that the country may be burying loved ones after the next successful attack.
Administration officials admitted that Abdulmutallab’s name was added to the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) list in November; however this list contains more than 500,000 names with minimal details and it is painfully obvious that this system does not work as it should.
The current investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. According to AG of DOJ Holder, the Justice Department reminds the public that criminal complaints contain mere allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is an insult to the brave passengers who subdued the alleged terrorist.
Lieberman concluded by referring to the 9/11 Commission report in which they believed the U.S. failed to connect the dots. “9/11 happened because of a failure of imagination.”
For more stories;
Acting Customs and Border Commissioner Ayhern to retire leaving a stained legacy
National security breeches include discovery of missiles and bombs
Planners of 9/11 terrorist attacks to plead not guilty
Al Qaeda spouts more propaganda on bio attacks
Screw up; move up in play again at Customs and Border Protection
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner