Washington: The al Qaeda`s unsuccessful attempt to blow up an American plane on Christmas Day reflects that the ability of this terrorist organisation to orchestrate a 9/11 type attack by well trained team is diminishing, a top US intelligence official has claimed.
"Al Qaeda is diminished as evidenced by the fact they are sending inexperienced individuals without long association with al Qaeda, but susceptible to jihadist ideology," the director of National Intelligence, Dennis C Blair, said in a year-end message to the American intelligence community.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is the apex body of as many as 16 intelligence agencies of the United States including CIA and FBI (National Security
"Unfortunately, even unsophisticated terrorists can kill many Americans," Blair said.
On December 25, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, attempted to blow up the North West Airplane by unsuccessfully igniting an explosive PETN – pentaerythritol trinitrate -– which he managed to sneak inside the plane sewn in his underwear.
Abdulmutallab has been charged with attempt to blow up a US plane.
During interrogation, Abdulmutallab said he received the training and the explosive from al Qaeda men in Yemen. Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the failed attack.
"The Intelligence Community should be proud of its role in weakening al Qaeda`s ability to plan, organize, finance, and carry out highly orchestrated attacks conducted by well trained teams, like those on 9/11," Blair said.
"What concerns me most now is not only stopping the types of attacks of the past, but also anticipating and stopping the different, more cunning attacks of the future.
Al Qaeda and its affiliate organisations, as well as individual suicide terrorists, have observed our defences and are designing future attacks to circumvent them," he said.
"They are doing so right now, as you are reading this message. These attacks will be even harder to uncover, interpret, and stop.”
“We must anticipate other types of attacks that are within the capability of these individuals and groups, and improve our defence to stay ahead of them," Blair said.
Obama had termed this unsuccessful al Qaeda bid as a "systemic failure" of the intelligence community.
"The attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day did not succeed, but, as one of several recent attacks against the US inspired by jihadist ideology or directed by al Qaeda and its affiliates, it reminds us that our mission to protect Americans is unending," he said.
The President was direct in his assessment that intelligence failures were a contributing factor in the escalation of this threat.
"This is a tough message for us to receive. But we have received it, and now we must move forward and respond as a team," he said.
"In coming days we will review what information was available to whom, determine what mistakes were made in assessing or sharing that information, commend those who did their jobs well, and hold accountable those who did not. I have no doubt in our ability to close the gaps that these attacks exposed," Blair said.
Noting that the US Intelligence Community is now more collaborative than ever before, knows how to operate as a team, and can adjust to conditions on the ground, Blair said:
"In the immediate term we have a challenging job of self-examination, and we will do it as a community. As we face the continuing threat of jihadist terror attacks in the future, we will work together to understand, anticipate, and act against our enemies."