US revises airport security after failed al Qaeda airliner explosion

The White House described as an attempted act of terrorism the resumed "firecracker" aboard the Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Dec. 25, Christmas Day. The suspect, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a Nigerian engineering student at University College London, is said to have admitted to trying to detonate an explosive powder taped to his leg with chemicals aboard the Airbus 330 which was carrying 278 passengers. The pilot alerted by a smoke alarm half an hour before Detroit and made a safe emergency landing. The Nigerian was subdued and detained immediately for questioning, reportedly admitting to links with al Qaeda. His second-degree burns were treated.
The explosive powder on his body was undetected – first when he boarded a KLM Flight 588 in Lagos, Nigeria and second, when he connected at Amsterdam to Northwest 253 destined to Detroit, US saying he was travelilng to attend a religious seminar. According to ABC, he was on a US intelligence watch list but not on the US government's no-fly list.
President Barack Obama interrupted his Hawaii vacation and ordered airline security raised across the United States. Most West European airports were placed on terror alert, especially in Britain and Germany.
Abdulmutallab may have been recruited by a al Qaeda network, which DEBKA-Net-Weekly 425 revealed on Dec. 11 to be newly established in Europe. Our counter-terror sources report that since early October, President Obama and to US security officials have been aware of the new network or cluster of cells taking shape in Europe. First detected by the German BND, it appears to be structurally similar to the Hamburg cell, which planned and executed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. The Germany agency also tipped off Israel to its forecast of a new wave of Islamist terror threatening the US and other parts of the world.
The information was kept within a tight circle of counter-intelligence agencies until the BND could find out more about the new jihadist network in the face of a number of obstacles:
1. The new network has recruited new faces not on Western anti-terror services books with no known links to al Qaeda members or members of their families.
2. Al Qaeda has clamped down further on its already tight secretiveness and the compartmenting of cells.
Network leaders and members – in and outside Europe, in such places as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa – are forbidden to communicate by telephone, whether cell or satellite, or use Internet lines such as email. Connections are maintained by a small band of secret couriers who memorize coded messages and transfer them orally at destination without understanding their content, a safeguard against betrayal in case they are captured.
3. Al Qaeda is believed to be using operatives living in Europe and leading apparently normal lives. They are multi-tasked – used for attacks, target selection and reconnaissance. If necessary, they procure weapons and explosives or even raise funds for operations.
4. The German agency is certain the new networks operate on direct orders from Osama Bin Laden, or his close circle of top lieutenants. However, since he was linked directly to an attack in September, 2001, nothing his known of his leadership style, tactics and modus operandi, which may or may not have changed in the interim years up to 2009. Then, he determined plans of operation in outline and its targets, leaving it to regional cells to fill in the details.
debkafile's counter-terror sources note that despite successful US operations against al Qaeda – most recently in Yemen – the hard core of the Islamist organization remains intact, widespread and fully prepared to loose more terror against the West.
On Christmas exactly eight years ago, the British al Qaeda shoe-bomber, Richard Reid, tried and failed to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami. Passengers wrestled him to the floor before he could detonate the explosives in his shoe.
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