US counterterrorism chief quits

June 10th, 2011 - 2:37 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, June 10 (IANS) Mike Leiter, the head of the
US National Counterterrorism Centre, is quiting after close to five years at the post, the White House said Thursday.

The White House did not give a reason for Leiter’s departure, but President Barack Obama praised him as “a trusted advisor” who provided “in-depth understanding of terrorist activities that affect our nation’s security”, Xinhua reported.

Leiter became the head of the National Counterterrorism Centre in 2007 under former president George W. Bush. He was asked by Obama to stay in 2009, but was later criticized for failing to identify the threat by a known extremist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who on Christmas Day 2009 succeeded in boarding a Delta airplane rigged with explosives. The device failed to detonate over Detroit, Michigan.

Obama said that in his several years at the counterterrorism centre, Leiter led the agency “during challenging and demanding times”. The president added that he is confident that the nation is now in a “significantly stronger position to confront the terrorist threats we face”.

There’s no word on who will replace Leiter.

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