WASHINGTON – The CIA on Wednesday rejected accusations that it failed to share vital information with other US intelligence agencies that might have helped prevent last week's attempted plane bomb attack.
The intelligence agency rejected charges that it possessed, but failed to disseminate, information about Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab that might have led to his being placed on a no-fly list.
"We learned of Abdulmutallab in November, when his father came to the US embassy in Nigeria and sought help in finding him. We did not have his name before then," said CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano.
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"Also in November, we worked with the embassy to ensure he was in the government's terrorist database -- including mention of his possible extremist connections in Yemen," the CIA spokesman said.
"We also forwarded key biographical information about him to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)" Gimigliano said, referring to the government office tasked with compiling and integrating intelligence from various US agencies.
"This agency, like others in our government, is reviewing all data to which it had access -- not just what we ourselves may have collected -- to determine if more could have been done to stop Abdulmutallab," Gimigliano said.
Abdulmutallab allegedly worked with Al-Qaeda in last week's bid to bomb the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route to Detroit by igniting explosives stitched into his underwear.
His father reportedly warned US officials in Africa about his son's extremist views, but the information reportedly was not disseminated throughout the intelligence community, and his son's name was never entered on a terror suspect no-fly list.
A US intelligence official told AFP that the interview Abdulmutallab's father had with CIA officials in Africa failed to yield any "smoking gun piece of evidence," that would have led to his being placed on a no-fly list.
The NCTC "had all the relevant information that the US government knew about Abdulmutallab prior to his attempted attack," the intelligence official said.
"The suspect's father provided his son's name and passport number to the US embassy in November and that information was shared. He also said his son might have connections to extremists in Yemen -- a fact that was relayed also," said the official, who requested anonymity.
"I'm not aware of any smoking gun piece of intelligence -- somehow withheld -- that would have automatically put Abdulmutallab on the select or no-fly lists."
President Barack Obama railed Tuesday against the intelligence breakdown and demanded an accounting this week of how the US system failed.