Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23 year old son of an upper class Nigerian family, attempted to blow up Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam as it prepared for final approach into Detroit. Only by the grace of God did he fail.
It is not clear how Abdulmutallab became radicalized. An article in the Guardian describes his privileged background. Born into a wealthy Muslim family in the middle of Nigeria's muslim heartland, he attended private schools in West Africa and then traveled to Britain to attend college. He always displayed a religious bent, but no one interviewed in the article gives any indication that Abdulmutallab was subjected to extremist views or took up the extremist cause prior to departing for the UK. Unfortunately, the article does not dig deep enough into this line of questioning, making no apparent effort to discover the mosques he attended in London. The fact that someone of privileged backround should be radicalized and the fact that the radicalization likely occurred in UK should be no surprise whatsoever to anyone who follows such things closely.
Apparently, six months ago, Abdulmutallab's father became so concerned with his son's newly radicalized views that he reported his son as a potential danger to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria. Somewhere about that time, according to ABC News, Abdulmutallab made contact with a Salafi imam in Yemen asking for links to al Qaeda. The imam directed Abdulmutallab to come to Yemen where he was linked up with a Saudi bomb maker. The bomb maker sowed the bomb into a set of underwear - Fruit of the Boom apparently. Its the latest Salafi knock-off for the well dressed jihadist.
Despite having information on his ties to terrorists and the warning from his father, our government did not put him on a no-fly list or even designate him for special screening measures. He was travelling on a Visa issued by the State Department on June 16, 2008 and valid until June 12, 2010.
The explosive he had situated in his underwear and behind his testicles consisted of over 80 grams of PETN, an explosive that has been around for a century and that is easy to make. You can find complete instructions for making it at several places on the internet. Those who have spent time in the military will know PETN as the explosive used in detcord, among other things. It explodes at a velocity of about 24,000 feet per second, making it a bit more powerful than TNT. The amount of PETN used by the would-be murderer would have been sufficient to blow a hole in the fuselage. The only thing which intervened was the detonater's failure. While there was no explosion, there was a fire, and Abdulmutallab's chestnuts got roasted (how apropos - and even in keeping with Christmas tradition).
So what we have is an individual who should at least have been picked up for special screening if not placed on a no-fly list. That is a failure of our system. Further, the screening system in place in Amsterdam obviously failed to detect the explosives carried by Abdulmutallab under normal screening procedures. This is particularly problematic as PETN has long been a favored explosive for terrorists, and it is one that is easilly detectable:
. . . law enforcement officials said modern airport screening machines could have detected the chemical. Airport "puffer" machines - the devices that blow air onto a passenger to collect and analyze residues - would probably have detected the powder, as would bomb-sniffing dogs or a hands-on search using a swab.
Enter Janet Napolitano, she who replaced the term terrorism with "man-caused disasters" and who was last seen painting all conservatives and former military as potential terrorists. In response to questions on how this could happen, her claim is that . . .
The system worked?
The SYSTEM WORKED??????? The only thing that worked, to put it in that light, the only thing that saved 300 lives on Christmas day, was a failed detonater. Somehow I find claiming either an act of God or jihadi incompetence as part of our official government system to protect the lives of air travelers as a bit more than outrageous.
And Napolitano claims insufficient information to put this would be jihadist on the list for just more secure screening - even after his father warns the Embassy about his radical religious views?????
Is this woman insane? She is at minimumum completely incompetent.
And to add, a great job with this interview by CNN.