Daily Archives: December 27, 2009
WASHINGTON — Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, said on Sunday that there was so far no evidence of a wider terrorist plot in what federal authorities said was an attempt by a 23-year-old Nigerian man to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day.
But speaking on CNN’S “State of the Union,” Ms. Napolitano said that the suspect’s claimed ties to Al Qaeda were “part of the criminal justice investigation that is ongoing.”
Although Ms. Napolitano said it would be “inappropriate to speculate” on such ties, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation over the weekend said that the claims of the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, were plausible, and that he saw no reason to discount Mr. Abdulmutallab’s account that he had obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda.
Asked if Mr. Abdulmutallab was part of a bigger plot or whether he was a “lone wolf,” Ms. Napolitano replied, “Well, right now, we have no indication that it’s part of anything larger, but obviously the investigation continues.”
Ms. Napolitano was pressed on CNN as well as other Sunday news programs why Mr. Abdulmutallab, whose name was in the American intelligence community’s central repository of information on known or suspected international terrorists, had been allowed to board the trans-Atlantic flight in Amsterdam. Mr. Abdulmutallab, the son of a prominent Nigerian banker, was put in the database last month because his father had recently warned officials at the United States Embassy in Nigeria that he was concerned about his son’s increasingly extremist religious views.
“You have to understand that you need information that is specific and credible if you are going to actually bar someone from air travel,” Ms. Napolitano said on CNN. “He was on a general list, which over half a million people — everybody had access to it. But there was not the kind of credible information, in the sense derogatory information, that would move him up the list.”
Ms. Napolitano said that in the next weeks, federal officials will be “really looking at those watch lists procedures in light of this occurring and saying, ‘OK, do those need to be changed?’ They have been in place for a number of years.”
Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name was inserted in November into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or Tide, which has about 500,000 registered individuals. A subset of that is the Terrorist Screening Data Base, or T.S.D.B., which has about 400,000 names. Fewer than 4,000 people from the T.S.D.B. list are on a “no-fly” list, and an additional 14,000 are on a “selectee” list that calls for mandatory secondary screening.
At the time that Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name was recorded in the Tide database in November, an Obama administration official said, there was “insufficient derogatory information available” to put him on the T.S.D.B, no-fly or selectee lists, and so he was not on any watch list when he boarded the plane bound for Detroit.
Republicans on Sunday blamed the Obama administration for a lapse in security. “Homegrown terrorism, the threat to the United States, is real,” Representative Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Select Intelligence Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think this administration has downplayed it. They need to recognize it, identify it. It is the only way we are going to defeat it.”
Representative Peter King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, was critical of he Obama administration as well as Ms. Napolitano, who said repeatedly on the Sunday programs that the system had “worked” because passengers jumped on Mr. Abdulmutallab as he tried to ignite a highly explosive powder mixture, PETN, also called pentaerythritol tetranitrate, that he had taped to his leg.
“The fact is the system did not work, and we have to find a bipartisan way to fix it,” Mr. King said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If that had been successful, the plane would have come down and we would have had a Christmas Day massacre with almost 300 people murdered.”
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said on ABC and NBC that President Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, had ordered two reviews, one to look into whether the government did everything it could with the information on Mr. Abdulmutallab, and another on whether revisions are necessary in U.S. security procedures.
FONTANA – A Rialto woman has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly slicing a man’s throat for trash-talking while he watched a pick-up basketball game.
Nicole Renee Roberson, 38, allegedly attacked the 24-year-old victim with a box cutter Aug. 22 after he persisted in trash-talking at Seville Park in Fontana despite repeated demands to stop.
Roberson pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in Fontana Superior Court following her Dec. 16 arrest in connection with the incident.
She remained jailed in lieu of $1.2 million bail last week at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.
Roberson could face a prison sentence of 16 years to life if convicted on all charges. She is next due in court Monday.
The alleged victim told police after the stabbing that he and Roberson were friends, and they had developed a relationship where they often jokingly argued with each other, according to investigative reports attached to Roberson’s court file.
The day of the stabbing, the victim and Roberson were socializing and drinking alcohol at a friend’s apartment near Seville Park, the alleged victim told police.
The victim told police he was “playing and talking trash” with Roberson, and he persisted despite her demands to stop because he believed she was playing along.
The victim told police he hit Roberson lightly on the shoulder in a playful manner, and she pulled put a box cutter and threatened to cut him
if he didn’t stop.
“(The victim) stated that he laughed and told her to stop and put the razor away,” wrote Fontana police Detective Cliff Ohler.
Three or four hours later, the victim said he went to Seville Park at Juniper and Seville avenues, and he saw a group of kids playing basketball.
Witnesses told police the alleged victim continually taunted the kids, ridiculing their basketball skills and telling them to stop playing.
Roberson was also in the park when the alleged victim began taunting the kids, and she told him to stop, witnesses told police.
“An argument ensued as (the victim) tried to explain that he was only playing and told (Roberson) to mind her own business,” Ohler wrote. “(The victim) stated he turned to walk away from (Roberson) and she cut his throat with a box cutter.”
When police arrived at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center that evening to interview the victim, they saw a slash wound that began at the front of his throat and ended on the left side of his neck near his ear.