Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged on Monday that the nation’s aviation security system failed after allowing a Nigerian man armed with explosives to board a flight bound for Detroit. The statement came not long after Napolitano made a widely criticized assertion on CNN that the "system has worked."
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, is now in custody after allegedly hiding an explosive and attempting to detonate it on a Northwest Airlines flight that was coming from Amsterdam. According to the Associated Press (AP), the device malfunctioned and burst into flames, only harming the suspect.
Criticism of security measures has begun to mount due to the fact that Abdulmutallab was on a terrorist "watch list" yet managed to successfully pass through two security checkpoints with the explosive on his person. The suspect, who was not on the "no-fly" list, purchased the ticket with cash and checked no luggage, according to The New York Times.
Abdulmutallab’s father alerted the American embassy in Nigeria in October that his son had developed radical views and had disappeared, possibly to Yemen. Officials did not revoke the suspect’s visa, which was good through June 2010.
Napolitano’s original comments have received sharp criticism from members of the GOP including Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.
"It’s not reassuring when the secretary of Homeland Security says the system worked," King said, quoted by the AP. "It failed in every respect."
On Sunday, President Obama ordered a review of the aviation security system.