Obama orders heightened security

Barack Obama orders security measures to address failings over the bid to blow up a US-bound airliner.

WASHINGTON // Hundreds of law enforcement officers are being trained as federal air marshals to ramp up security as the Obama administration tries to prevent a repeat of the near-catastrophic attempt to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day. President Barack Obama ordered the US intelligence agencies to do a better job of recognising serious terror threats and sharing information with those who can disrupt a plot as quickly as possible. The White House yesterday released a declassified summary of a two-week review that began when a 23-year-old Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with an explosive hidden in his underwear. Officials received fragments of information as early as October about an alleged terror recruit they later learnt was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Although intelligence officials knew that an al Qa'eda operative in Yemen posed a threat to US security, they did not increase their focus on that threat and did not pull together fragments of data needed to foil the scheme, the review found.

Mr Obama announced about a dozen changes designed to fix that, including new terror watch list guidelines, wider and quicker distribution of intelligence reports, stronger analysis of those reports, international partnerships and an inter-agency effort to develop next-generation airport screening technologies. Extra air marshals - one of the additional layers of security ordered for air travel - will add to the more than 4,000 already in the system, officials familiar with the classified strategy said. Mr Obama has also called for enhanced screening technology to detect explosives and other dangerous materials terrorists could try to sneak onto an aeroplane.

* AP