`CIA knew about Nigerian terror suspect`
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Last Updated: Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 09:47
Washington: As US President Barack Obama on late Tuesday conceded of systemic intelligence failure, media reports said that the CIA knew about the Nigerian terror suspect involved in a thwarted Christmas Day plane attack.

Several American media organisations yesterday reported that the father of Nigerian terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had met the CIA officials in Nigeria and briefed them about his son's radical links.

The news reports claimed that this report was not shared by the CIA with other agencies.

"Had that information been shared, the 23-year-old Nigerian who is alleged to have bungled an attempt to blow up a jetliner as it was landing in Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day might have been denied passage on the Northwest Airlines flight," a source was quoted as saying by the CNN.

Abdulmutallab, 23, has been charged with attempt to blow up a US plane on December 25.

The CBS News reported that as early as August of 2009 the Central Intelligence Agency was picking up information on a person of interest dubbed "The Nigerian", suspected of meeting with "terrorist elements" in Yemen.

This Nigerian has now turned out to be Abdulmutallab, it said.

"We must get better at collecting these bits of information, putting them together at a central point, analysing them and then acting," Lee Hamilton, the vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, was quoted as saying by CBS news.

"Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of al Qaeda there were talking about "a Nigerian" being prepared for a terrorist attack," The New York Times reported.

Obama was briefed about it by his intelligence aides yesterday morning in Hawaii, where he is spending his year-end vacation.

Soon thereafter, Obama made his second statement on December 25 incident saying that this was a systemic intelligence failure.

"When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred," Obama said.

"I consider that totally unacceptable," said the US President.

According to The New York Times, 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 daily said.


First Published: Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 09:47

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