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Homeland Security

Obama, Counter-Terrorism Aide to Discuss Airline Attack

VOA News 04 January 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama is meeting with his senior counter-terrorism aide Monday to discuss the attempted Christmas Day, December 25, bombing of a U.S. jetliner.

Mr. Obama's meeting with John Brennan comes one day before administration security officials gather at the White House to discuss the incident.

The president ordered an inter-agency review to determine how the suspect, a 23-year-old Nigerian man with alleged ties to extremists, was able to sneak explosives on the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight. The explosives did not detonate, and passengers and crew quickly subdued the suspect.

Mr. Obama described the incident as a "potential catastrophic breach of security." In response, travelers from 14 countries are now facing increased security screenings when flying into the United States.

The Transportation Security Administration said every person traveling "from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest" will be subject to "enhanced screening."

The U.S. State Department lists Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. Also subject to more stringent screening are passengers from Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen. The suspect says he trained in Yemen with al-Qaida operatives.

A White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters Monday that because of the review, thousands of names were removed from the terror watch list and "probably dozens" were moved to different lists. The suspect in the Christmas Day attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was on the terror watch list, but not the no-fly list that would have prevented him from flying to the United States.

Extra screening measures may include body pat-downs, swabbing of luggage to detect explosives, and body scans. TSA also ordered an overall increase in the use of "enhanced screening technologies," along with "threat-based" and random screening, for U.S.-bound airline passengers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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