President Obama promised today that the country would "not rest until" the people behind the the plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day were caught and brought to justice.
"We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable," Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii with his family, said. "This was a serious reminder of the dangers that we face and the nature of those who threaten our homeland."
"We will continue to do everything that we can to keep America safe in the new year and beyond," the president added.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- a Nigerian national who had been on the U.S. government's terrorist watch list but not on its no-fly list --- was arrested Christmas Day after authorities say he tried to ignite explosives he carried in his underwear in an attempt to destroy the Detroit-bound passenger aircraft.
Shortly before Obama vowed to go after the perpetrators of the attempt, an al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for the botched bombing.
A husband and wife who were on the flight said they saw Abdulmutallab with a wealthy looking man at the check-in gate, and said it appeared the older man was trying to help him get past security.
Kurt Haskell, a Michigan attorney who spoke with ABC News this afternoon, said the two seemed to be an incongruous pair, because Abdulmutallab looked to him like a poor teenager, not someone the other man, who he described as "Indian, but to me Indian may be Pakistani or Bangladesh or something similar," would likely be with.
FBI officials in Detroit have not commented on the couple's claim.
The president's remarks today came shortly after al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack, a message that has led the FBI, CIA and the entire U.S. intelligence community to begin an intensive scrub down and go back and look at all the Yemen-related threat intel to see if they have missed anything, or dismissed anything that they should not have.
The agencies launched the internal review almost immediately after the failed attempt and today, sources tell ABC News, a statement from al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula telling Americans that "we will strike you with what you have no previous knowledge of, for as you kill you shall be killed, our vengeance is near," is creating more concern.
Senior officials tell ABC News that this threat released today is receiving intense scrutiny from all agencies and the White House. Officials are trying to figure out how to respond.
"This is a dangerous group and we need to take them seriously. They were not specific about their plans, but that clearly was intentional, so as not to tip their hand," one intelligence source told ABC News. This could be a scare tactic or propaganda, the official said. but he added many do not feel the group is making an "idle threat."
The group is based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen and said the attempted Christmas day bombing was in retaliation a Dec. 17 U.S. bombing of their training sites in Yemen.
However, a senior administration official rejected the group's claim about retaliation, pointing out that the bomber, a 23-year-old Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was in the field long before that airstrike.