[JURIST] US President Barack Obama on Monday announced steps [transcript] the federal government is taking to address air travel security following the Friday attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. He said that as soon as the attempted attack was discovered, officials increased screening requirements and increased the number of air marshals aboard flights. He also confirmed that he had on Sunday ordered the review [NYT report] of how the US no-fly list [JURIST news archive] is managed as well as screening and other security procedures:
I've ordered two important reviews, because it's absolutely critical that we learn from this incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism.Earlier on Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] aknowledged [NBC interview, video] that Abdulmutallab had been listed on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (Tide) list [fact sheet] and conceded that our system did not work in this instance, and no one is happy or satisfied with that." Abdulmutallabs Monday hearing in front of a federal judge in Detroit has been postponed without explanation.
The first review involves our watch list system, which our government has had in place for many years to identify known and suspected terrorists so that we can prevent their entry into the United States. Apparently the suspect in the Christmas incident was in this system, but not on a watch list, such as the so-called no-fly list. So I have ordered a thorough review, not only of how information related to the subject was handled, but of the overall watch list system and how it can be strengthened.
The second review will examine all screening policies, technologies and procedures related to air travel. We need to determine just how the suspect was able to bring dangerous explosives aboard an aircraft and what additional steps we can take to thwart future attacks.
US authorities on Saturday filed charges [press release; JURIST report] against Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, for allegedly attempting to set off an explosive device on an airplane bound from Amsterdam to Detroit on Friday. Abdulmutallab is charged with willfully attempting to destroy an aircraft or aircraft facilities in violation of 18 USC § 32 [text]. Earlier this year, twelve men were charged and three sentenced to life in prison [JURIST reports] in connection with a plot to blow up transatlantic planes leaving a London airport using liquid explosives. Richard Reid and Saajid Badat [GlobalSecurity profiles] were convicted [JURIST report] in 2005 and 2003 respectively after Reid attempted to blow up an American Airlines flight in 2001 using an explosive device concealed in his shoe.