Obama links Christmas Day plane attack to Al Qaeda

January 2nd, 2010 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Jan 2 (IANS) President Barack Obama has, for the first time, publicly linked the suspect who tried to blow up a US-bound passenger plane on Christmas Day to Al Qaeda and vowed that those behind the failed attack “will be held to account”.

In his first weekly radio and Internet address of the new year released early Saturday on the White House website, Obama said it appeared a Yemeni affiliate of Al Qaeda trained the suspect, “equipped him with…explosives, and directed him to attack” the plane “headed for America”.

Obama said the group had attacked American targets before, including killing an American at the US Embassy in Yemen in 2008. He said the US government is strengthening its partnership with Yemen “to strike Al Qaeda terrorists”.

The president, who has been criticised by opposition Republicans for not taking strong enough action against militants and terrorists, defended his administration’s efforts to end the war in Iraq and increase troop levels in Afghanistan. He said those actions are part of his strategy to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies”.

Rebutting attacks by former vice president Dick Cheney and other Republicans, Obama said he was well aware that “our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred”.

The president’s speech, taped from Hawaii where he is nearing the end of a 10-day holiday, was the third time he has publicly addressed the failed attack on Northwest Flight 253 bound for Detroit on Dec 25. But his comments about the involvement of Al Qaeda, however, were the most direct to date by the highest reaches of the American government.

Obama noted that he has received preliminary reports about the incident but gave no more details about how a Nigerian man with known radical views was allowed to board a flight to the United States with explosives in his underwear.

Obama defended his policies as tough but reasonable, and called for an end to the sniping that both parties have engaged in since the Christmas episode. “As we go forward, let us remember this - our adversaries are those who would attack our country, not our fellow Americans, not each other,” Obama said.

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