The investigation into how Abdulmutallab was able to board an aircraft initiated a massive review of terrorism threat analysis and the watchlisting process. U.S. officials had several steps to detect Abdulmutallab before he departed for the United States.
The most glaring missed signal was a Nov. 19, 2009, meeting between Abdulmutallab's father and a CIA officer at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, where the father expressed his concern that his son was being radicalized in Yemen.
CIA and State Department officials sent a cable to regional embassies and the National Counterterrorism Center where his name was entered into a terrorism database, but Abdulmutallab was not flagged to the no-fly list because there was not enough information about him.
According to U.S. officials it is believed that Abdulmutallab was trained by members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula where he lived and studied before returning to his home in Nigeria.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Wednesday, "This investigation is fast-paced, global and ongoing, and it has already yielded valuable intelligence that we will follow wherever it leads. Anyone we find responsible for this alleged attack will be brought to justice using every tool -- military or judicial -- available to our government."
The White House argues that even the Bush admimistration successfully prosecuted terrorists -- so-called 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe-bomber Richard Reid -- not in military commisions but in civilian criminal courts. Moreover, according to a report released by Human Rights First, between Sept. 11, 2001 and June 2008, the government -- mostly under President Bush -- prosecuted 214 accused terrorists in criminal courts. 195 were convicted or pleaded guilty.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has expressed support for the decision to pursue criminal charges, saying there is very little variance between what the FBI can do in interrogations and what military interrogators can do -- unless you use the enhanced interrogation methods that President Obama banned.
The averted bombing has prompted a beefing up of international and domestic security screenings for air travel. According to DHS officials, the department has also ramped up security measures for other mass transportation systems as well.