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Updated: December 29, 2009 08:28 IST

Obama vows to dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda

PTI
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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media about the recent air travel incident at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Monday. Photo: AP
AP U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media about the recent air travel incident at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Monday. Photo: AP

Noting that it is absolutely critical that the administration learns from the December 25 incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism, U.S. President Barack Obama said he has ordered two important reviews.

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed to defeat the al-Qaeda terrorist network and hit them anywhere in the world from where they are plotting attack against the US.

“A full investigation has been launched into this attempted act of terrorism, and we will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable,” Mr. Obama said in his nationally televised remarks from Hawaii -- where he is holidaying.

This is Mr. Obama’s first public statement after the foiled attempt by an al-Qaeda operative to blow up a US plane on Christmas Day with more than 270 people on board.

“Had the suspect succeeded in bringing down that plane, it could have killed nearly 300 passengers and crew, innocent civilians preparing to celebrate the holidays with their families and friends,” he said.

Terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, has been charged with trying to destroy a Detroit-bound US plane. He is currently lodged in a federal prison.

“We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the US homeland,” Mr. Obama said.

“I have directed my national security team to keep up the pressure on those who would attack our country. We do not yet have all the answers about this latest attempt, but those who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know that the US will more -- do more than simply strengthen our defences,” he said.

Noting that it is absolutely critical that the administration learns from the December 25 incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism, Mr. Obama said he has ordered two important reviews.

“The first review involves our watch list system, which our government has had in place for many years to identify known and suspected terrorists so that we can prevent their entry into the US.

“Apparently the suspect in the Christmas incident was in this system, but not on a watch list, such as the so-called no-fly list. So I have ordered a thorough review, not only of how information related to the subject was handled, but of the overall watch list system and how it can be strengthened,” he said.

“The second review will examine all screening policies, technologies and procedures related to air travel. We need to determine just how the suspect was able to bring dangerous explosives aboard an aircraft and what additional steps we can take to thwart future attacks,” Mr. Obama said.

The President observed that the incident was a “serious” reminder of the dangers that the US face and the nature of those who threaten it.

“The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season,” he said.

Mr. Obama said American people should remain vigilant, but also be confident. “Those plotting against us seek not only to undermine our security, but also the open society and the values that we cherish as Americans.”

This incident, like several that have preceded it, demonstrates that an alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist, he said.

“As a nation, we will do everything in our power to protect our country. As Americans, we will never give in to fear or division. We will be guided by our hopes, our unity, and our deeply held values,” Mr. Obama said.

“That’s who we are as Americans; that’s what our brave men and women in uniform are standing up for as they spend the holidays in harm’s way. And we will continue to do everything that we can to keep America safe in the new year and beyond,” the US president said.

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