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Source: CIA failed to circulate report about bombing suspect

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Suspect's father met with CIA
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Source: CIA had report on AbdulMutallab weeks before bombing attempt on plane
  • Report written after AbdulMutallab's dad spoke to someone with CIA, source says
  • Source: If CIA had circulated report, AbdulMutallab might have been kept from plane
  • AbdulMutallab charged with trying to detonate explosives on Christmas flight

(CNN) -- The father of terrorism suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab talked about his son's extremist views with someone from the CIA and a report was prepared, but the report was not circulated outside the agency, a reliable source told CNN's Jeanne Meserve on Tuesday.

Had that information been shared, the 23-year-old Nigerian who is alleged to have bungled an attempt to blow up a jetliner as it was landing in Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day might have been denied passage on the Northwest Airlines flight, the source said.

U.S. officials said the father, a former Nigerian banker, expressed his concerns about his son's radicalization during at least one meeting and several calls with officials at the embassy in Nigeria.

The information on AbdulMutallab had been sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, but it sat there for five weeks and was not disseminated, the source said.

Federal authorities have charged AbdulMutallab with trying to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear as the flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, made its final approach to Detroit. The device failed to fully detonate, instead setting off a fire at his seat.

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An administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the federal government had information that should have been assessed and meshed with other information "that would have allowed us to disrupt the attempted terrorist attack" before the suspect boarded the jet.

"What we have here is a situation in which the failings were individual, organizational, systemic and technological," the official said. "We ended up in a situation where a single point of failure in the system put our security at risk, where human error was compounded by systemic deficiencies in a way that we cannot allow to continue."

But an intelligence official said that the son's name, passport number and possible connection to extremists were indeed disseminated. "I'm not aware of a magic piece of intelligence somehow withheld that would have put AbdulMutallab on the no-fly list," the official said.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said department staff did what they were supposed to have done by sending a cable to the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington about the matter. Kelly said any decision to have revoked the suspect's visa would have been an interagency decision.

But a U.S. government official said the information in the cable offered nothing specific and was just one of hundreds of such reports that the center evaluates daily.

The bureaucratic fingerpointing erupted shortly after President Obama on Tuesday blamed "a mix of human and systemic failures" for the incident and directed that preliminary findings into the matter be delivered to the White House by Thursday.

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