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Obama blames al-Qaida affiliate for Christmas airline attack

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Obama blames al-Qaida affiliate for Christmas airline attack

(Summary description)

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U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed Saturday in Hawaii that the failed attack on a Detroit-bound plane over Christmas was linked to an al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen.

"The investigation into the Christmas Day incident continues, and we're learning more about the suspect (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab)," Obama said in his weekly radio and video address released by the White House on Saturday.

"It appears that he joined an affiliate of al-Qaida, and that this group -- al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula -- trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America," Obama said.

This was the first time Obama has explicitly linked the suspect to the al-Qaida group. Previously, U.S. officials had only noted there was a "linkage" without directly attributing the attack to the terror group.

Obama, who is on vacation in Hawaii, demanded U.S. intelligence immediately follow up on what he termed "human and systemic failures," which allowed the 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to get on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Dec. 25, allegedly with explosives in his underwear.

He had also summoned intelligence chiefs to meet at the White House next week to discuss how to prevent such future attacks, he said.

Obama said he had made it a priority to strengthen cooperation with the Yemeni government by training and equipping Yemeni security forces, sharing intelligence and working with them to strike al-Qaida terrorists.

The U.S. provided 67 million U.S. dollars of aid to Yemen to fight terrorism last year.

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