23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being taken into custody on Flight 253. (Photo courtesy CNN)

U.S. knew of terror suspect

Man has been on a list of those suspected of terrorist ties for years


Eileen Sullivan
December 26, 2009 11:01PM (UTC)

An official briefed on the attack on a Detroit airliner said Saturday the U.S. has known for at least two years that the suspect in the attack could have terrorist ties.

The official told The Associated Press that the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, has been on a list that includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

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The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list is maintained by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center. It includes about 550,000 names.

People on that list are not necessarily on the no-fly list. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said Mutallab was not on the no-fly list.

King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said no federal air marshals were on the flights from Nigeria to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam to Detroit. Mutallab did not go through full-body image screening at either airport, the congressman said.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Mutallab would have been re-screened at the Amsterdam airport after his flight from Nigeria. Thompson and others say the Amsterdam airport has long had a good reputation for security.

Thompson said he plans to hold a hearing in January about the incident.

"It's still safe to fly," Thompson said.

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Eileen Sullivan

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