When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s father in Nigeria reported concern over his son’s “radicalization” to the U.S. Embassy there last month, U.S. intelligence officials deemed the information insufficient to pursue. The young man’s name was added to the half-million entries in a computer database and largely forgotten until he attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Friday, says the Washington Post. “Our system did not work in this instance,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today on the “Today” show. “Nobody is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is underway.”
The lack of attention was not unusual. Intelligence officials said thousands of similar bits of information flow into the National Counterterrorism Center each week from around the world. Only those that indicate a specific threat, or add to an existing body of knowledge about an individual, are passed along for further investigation and possible posting on airline and border watch lists. “It’s got to be something that causes the information to sort of rise out of the noise level, because there is just so much out there,” one official said. The report on Abdulmutallab, 23, after his father’s Nov. 19 embassy visit was “very, very thin, with minimal information,” said a second U.S. official.