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Al-Qaida group claims responsibility for terror attempt

President Barack Obama, in Kaneohe, Hawaii, on Monday,

President Barack Obama, in Kaneohe, Hawaii, on Monday, talks about a suspected failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day. (Dec. 28, 2009) Photo Credit: Getty Images

As President Barack Obama announced a review of the nation's air travel security apparatus following the attempted Christmas Day plane attack, an al-Qaida group claimed responsibility for the failed bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight near Detroit.

"It's absolutely critical that we learn from this incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism," Obama said from Hawaii, where he is vacationing.

He said he has ordered a pair of reviews to determine whether changes are needed in either the watch list system or airport screening procedures.

Meanwhile, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and other lawmakers continued their criticism of the government's handling of the Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was on a terrorist watch list but was still allowed to board the U.S.-bound plane in Amsterdam without additional screening.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano conceded Monday that the aviation security system failed, backtracking from a statement Sunday in which she said the airline security system worked. She said Monday her words had been taken out of context.

"Our system did not work in this instance," she said Monday on NBC's "Today" show. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."

Abdulmutallab is being held at a federal prison in Milan, Mich. His court hearing scheduled for Monday was rescheduled for Jan. 8 without explanation.

The group claiming responsibility for the incident, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, said the attempted attack was retaliation for U.S. operations against the group in Yemen. Yemeni forces, aided by U.S. intelligence, carried out two airstrikes against al-Qaida operatives in the country this month - the second coming just days before the incident.

The group's statement said Abdulmutallab used explosives manufactured by al-Qaida members.

"He managed to penetrate all devices and modern advanced technology and security checkpoints in international airports bravely without fear of death," the statement said. The message was dated Saturday but posted Monday to a Web site frequently used by militants to disseminate their messages.

It also emerged Monday that from August until early this month Abdulmutallab was in Yemen, where he had a visa to study Arabic in Sana'a, the nation's capital, according to Yemen's foreign ministry.

Abdulmutallab's father, prominent Nigerian banker Alhaji Umar Mutallab, said he notified Nigerian security agencies about his son two months ago, requesting the "assistance to find and return him home."

Mutallab later told U.S. embassy officials in Nigeria that he was worried his son "had fallen under the influence of religious extremists," though he did not mention a specific threat.

In his speech Monday, Obama said the fight against Islamic extremists plotting to harm Americans will continue.

"We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us," he said, "whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland."

Will Van Sant and

The Associated Press

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