Saturday, December 26, 2009

Terrorist Foothold in South America

Leaving aside yesterday's attempted terrorist attack on the Northwest Airlines jet, a counterterrorism analyst maintains that Latin America could actually be America's Achilles heel in the war on terrorism:
“There is a growing presence of Islamic activism and fundraising in Latin America,” [former FBI Special Agent James] Conway told Newsmax. “There is a significant presence of human-trafficking organizations that terror cells have and could exploit for movement of people and materials into the United States, and that should be of a major concern to us from a national-security perspective.”

Passengers Use Self Help To Foil Plane Bomber

Self help in the law in general refers to a corrective or preventive remedy taken by a private citizen to solve a problem without running to court. That's kind of what the passengers did in stopping the suicide bomber on a Northwest Airlines flight:
A Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria, who said he was acting on Al Qaeda's instructions, tried to blow up the plane Friday as it was landing in Detroit, law enforcement and national security officials said.
Passengers subdued the man and may have prevented him from detonating the explosives, officials said.
Meanwhile, U.S. counterterrorism officials were apparently aware of the the man's terrorist ties, but gave him a visa despite the red flags:
The father of the al Qaeda terrorist behind Friday’s attempted explosion aboard a Northwest flight bound for Detroit reported his son’s fanatical religious views to the U.S. Embassy six months ago, according to a Nigerian news outlet.
The young man, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, is the son of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a former Nigerian minister and bank chairman. He became wary of his son’s religious beliefs and reported his activities to the U.S. Embassy as well as Nigerian security services half a year ago, according to the Nigerian newspaper This Day.
The elder Mutallab had left his home in Katsina today, a city in Northern Nigeria, to speak with security agencies, the site reported, quoting family sources.
...A source close to the dad said he was shocked that his son was allowed to travel to this country after he’d reported his extreme views.
As with the Ft. Hood incident, lawmakers are wondering why security officials didn't take preemptive action:
Congressional lawmakers are looking to "get to the bottom" of the attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound flight, pledging to hold hearings next month and raising questions over how the suspect was allegedly able to smuggle an explosive mixture onto an airplane.
Analysts and lawmakers say the incident raises troubling questions and could lead to changes in airline security which has already gone through an overhaul since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Officials also questioned whether intelligence agencies were properly sharing information about the suspect, since sources said his name was on a federal watch list even though he was not on a "no-fly list." The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, had been in an intelligence database that includes people with known or suspected terrorist ties, and officials knew about that possible connection for "some time," a U.S. official told Fox News.