Obama slams intelligence failings in US plane plot

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama Tuesday lashed US intelligence Tuesday for missing “red flags” in the Arabian peninsula that could have disrupted a plot to blow up a US-bound plane and vowed to stop future lapses.

“It is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged,” Obama said in a terse televised statement. “That’s not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it.” He was speaking after meeting US spy chiefs and top national security aides at the White House to discuss two probes into the attempt to blow up a Northwest airliner as it approached Detroit on December 25.

“The bottom line is this — the US government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots,” Obama said.

“When a suspected terrorist is able to board a plane with explosives on Christmas Day, the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way,” he said.

“It’s my responsibility to find out why, and to correct that failure so that we can prevent such attacks in the future.” The findings showed US intelligence missed other “red flags” in the Arabian peninsula as well as the already revealed fact that the top suspect, 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was an extremist who had traveled to Yemen, Obama said.

Sanaa has been under increasing pressure in recent days to deal with an Al-Qaeda cell in the country which has claimed to be behind the plot to blow up the plane mid-air. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has also urged attacks on Western interests in Yemen.

The US embassy in Yemen reopened Tuesday after a two-day closure prompted by fears of an attack as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned unrest in the Arab country was a threat to global stability.

The US embassy said on its website that Yemeni security forces had addressed a “specific area of concern” in the north of the capital Sanaa on Monday, paving the way for the reopening.But full services at the British, French and Japanese embassies have yet to resume.

Investigations spanning from west Africa to Europe to the Middle East have been trying to piece together the would-be bomber’s whereabouts and actions leading up to the Christmas Day attack, foiled when the explosives failed to detonate properly.

Dutch prosecutors said Tuesday Abdulmutallab had probably obtained the explosives, which were stitched into his underwear, before he arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport where he boarded the US-bound flight.

White House said earlier he had been providing useful leads during his interrogations by the FBI as he awaits his arraignment on Friday in Detroit.

“Abdulmutallab spent a number of hours with FBI investigators in which we gleaned usable, actionable intelligence,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The United States has unleashed a barrage of measures to stop would-be attackers riding planes into the country, overhauling its terror watchlists and adding dozens more suspects to “no-fly” lists.

Further boosting security measures, all travelers coming from or via 14 “terror linked” countries will have to undergo compulsory enhanced screening.
US officials also revealed that “additional visas” had been revoked since the Christmas Day, but gave no details of how many or which countries the applicants were from.

“Additional visas have been revoked for people that we believe have suspected ties to terrorism,” US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.

Nigeria, one of the 14 countries on the security list, on Tuesday protested the new rules. “I made it clear, through the US ambassador, to the US government that this is unacceptable to Nigeria,” Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe told journalists.

EU security experts will meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the US emergency travel measures, amid privacy and health concerns over broader use of full body scanners.

Obama said, meanwhile, it had been decided not to transfer any more Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Yemen for now due to the “unsettled situation”there.

“But make no mistake. We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda,” Obama said.

The Obama administration has been under intense pressure from domestic critics and some friendly lawmakers not to send any more inmates back to Yemen, because of fears they will slip into extremism. — AFP

At least 21 militants surrender in Swat

RAWALPINDI: Security forces have arrested at least 24 terrorists during the last 24 hours. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), search and clearance operations are continuing in Swat and Malakand.

Security forces conducted operations at Kanatai and Gamsar and two suspects including Muhammad Amin Qari were apprehended.

Security forces conducted search operation at Rema (1.5 km north of Barshaur) and discovered a 15 ft long empty tunnel inside the house of Akbar Zada.

Fourteen individuals voluntary surrendered to security forces at Bar Shaur along with two SMGs. Seven terrorists surrendered to security forces at Devolai, Salhand and Shah Dheri.

Security forces also conducted search operation at Kanju and apprehended a suicide bomber. -Online

Security forces kill 18 militants in Momand

PESHAWAR: Paramilitary forces backed by jets and helicopter gunships on Thursday killed 18 militants in a tribal region bordering Afghanistan, a security official said.

‘At least 18 militants were killed, including one important commander,’ a security official told AFP. He did not disclose the identity of the commander.

‘Helicopter gunships, jets and artillery pounded and destroyed several militant hideouts in various areas of Momand,’ the official said

‘There were no casualties of security forces.’

The militant death toll could not be confirmed independently as the area is sealed off under military operations.

Momand is one of seven tribal districts in Pakistan where Taliban militants are active.

Security forces-militants skirmishes continue in Swat

SWAT: Five persons died in the outskirts of Mingora here, when mortar shells rained on the houses, while a security personnel was also injured in the clashes taking place between the security forces and militants at the adjoining area Qambar.

Sources said that five died and three were injured due to shells falling on the houses at Ogday, the outskirts of Mingora town here, while a security man was injured in the skirmishes at Qambar.

Security forces last night kept pounding the militants’ hideouts in the upper areas of Khawazakhela, Tehsil Kabal and Mata, but no loss of life report was received.

source : jang.com.pk

17 militants killed in Mohmand Agency operation

PESHAWAR: Al least 17 militants were killed when security forces pounded their hideouts with heavy artillery here on Tuesday. According to sources, security forces operation continues against militants in tehsil Pindyali and Safi of Mohmand Agency. Fighter jets bombed several suspected hideouts of militants in the area. In tehsil Pindyali, 12 militants were killed in security forces bombardment while 5 militants were killed in tehsil Safi. Vacant shops and houses situated along the main road in tehsil Lakro are being demolished by political administration for security reasons. Nearly 94 vacant houses, dozens of shops, petrol pump, three schools and basic health center have been razed to the ground. Security has been beefed up in the area and suspected people and vehicles are being searched by the security forces.

source : jang.com.pk

13 militants killed in Mohmand Agency clashes

PESHAWAR: Raging clashes between the security forces and the militants at Lakro Sandokhel area of Mohamand Agency left 13 militants dead, while 2 FC personnel also sacrificed their valuable lives.

Sources said that at least 13 militants were killed in the skirmishes between the security forces and militants at Lakro Sandokhel area of Mohmand Agency. Militants commander, Yaqub was also reported to be killed in the fierce clashes that continued overnight, when the security forces went on pounding militants’ hideouts with heavy weapons, while 2 FC men also sacrificed their lives in action. Meanwhile, the security forces have got the occupation of Sandokhel Government High School vacated. Stiff security arrangements have been made in the area, as all the exit/entry roads were being picketed.

source : jang.com.pk

10 militants arrested in Mohmand agency operation

PESHAWAR: Security forces arrested 10 militants in an operation in Tehsil Lakro, Mohmand Agency while a woman was killed as a result of a shell landing on a house.

According to sources, the security forces arrested 10 militants during a search operation in Kandharo area of Tehsil Lakro and recovered 2 jackets used in suicide attacks, an improvised bomb and other explosives.

Security forces also demolished 25 houses in another action.

source : jang.com.pk