KAILUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday vowed to track down all those behind an attempt to bring down a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, confronting criticism that he had slipped up on national security.
“We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable,” Obama said, interrupting his year-end vacation in Hawaii to assure Americans that his administration was doing all it could to ensure security after a Nigerian man managed to smuggle explosives onto a Detroit-bound flight.
“The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season,” he said.
Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, is charged with attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane as it approached Detroit on a flight from Amsterdam with almost 300 people on board.
Abdulmutallab has told U.S. investigators that al Qaeda operatives in Yemen supplied him with an explosive device for the attempted December 25 attack and trained him on how to detonate it, officials said.
Obama said the U.S. reaction would be forceful.
“We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland,” Obama said.
In a worrying development for U.S. security, officials have since discovered that Abdulmutallab’s father warned them of his son’s growing radicalism, but this information failed to prevent his traveling to the United States.
Obama said that as a result of this oversight, he had ordered a thorough review of the screening process.
“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,” Obama said.
Reporting by Jeff Mason, editing by Patricia Zengerle and Will Dunham