U.S. had warning of plot by 'Nigerian': report
U.S. officials had intelligence before Christmas that al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen were talking about "a Nigerian" being prepared for an attack, according to reports.
The information did not include the name of the man, the New York Times reported.
However, officials told the newspaper that if that intelligence had been compared with information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a connection could have been made, and an attempt to blow up a U.S. bound plane on Christmas Day might have been stopped.
Abdulmutallab is a Nigerian man accused of trying to light an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, has claimed Abdulmutallab co-ordinated with members of the group and that the explosives he allegedly carried on the Northwest Airlines flight were made by al-Qaeda members.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that Abdulmutallab's father spoke with a CIA official in Nigeria about his son's extremist views and that a report was prepared but not shared outside the agency.
The information had been sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., but was not disseminated, CNN reported.
In November, Abdulmutallab's father told the U.S. embassy officials in Abuja, Nigeria, that he was concerned about his son's religious beliefs. This information was passed on to U.S. intelligence officials.
The suspect's name was placed on a broad watch list that includes more than 500,000 names.
But officials have said there was not enough information to put him on a no-fly list, which contains the names of people deemed to be a threat to the security of aircraft or air travellers.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said a "systemic failure" led to a breakdown in intelligence sharing.
"It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list," Obama said. "Even without this one report, there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together."
If the information had been shared and put together with other intelligence, red flags would have gone up and Abdulmutallab would never have been on the flight, the president said.
Obama's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, is due to present the president with an early report by Thursday, based on recommendations and summaries from across the government.
With files from The Associated Press