WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Monday he has ordered a review of the nation's watchlist system and of its air safety regulations following a Christmas Day attack on a U.S. airliner. As an al-Qaida group claimed responsibility for the assault, the president said he has directed his national security team to keep up the pressure on those overseas who aim to attack the U.S.
"It's absolutely critical that we learn from this incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism," Obama said in his first public remarks since the attack on the Detroit-bound airliner.
The group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attempt to bring down the jet, saying the attack was retaliation for a U.S. operation against the group in Yemen.
"We do not yet have all the answers about this latest attempt, but those who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know that the United States will ... do more than simply strengthen our defenses," Obama said in a brief statement from Hawaii where he is vacationing with his family.
"We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland," he said.
The president said U.S. authorities will not rest until they find everyone involved in the attack in Detroit and hold them accountable.
Federal authorities met Monday to reassess the U.S. system of terror watchlists to determine how to avoid the type of lapse that allowed a man with explosives to board the flight in Amsterdam even though he was flagged as a possible terrorist.
In a statement posted on the Internet, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula said 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab coordinated with members of the group, an alliance of militants based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Yemeni forces, helped by U.S. intelligence, carried out two airstrikes against al-Qaida operatives in the country this month. The second one was a day before Abdulmutallab attempted to bring down a Northwest Airlines flight as it prepared to land in Detroit.
The group said Abdulmutallab used explosives manufactured by al-Qaida members.
The group released what it said was a photo of Abdulmutallab, smiling in a white shirt and white Islamic skullcap, overlaid on a graphic showing a plane taking off. In a second version of the same photo, he is shown with the al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula banner in the background.