US revokes additional visas

January 6, 2010 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Jan 6 – The United States said Tuesday it has revoked "additional visas" since the Christmas Day plane plot amid continuing fears of terror attacks.

The information was disclosed as President Barack Obama prepared to unveil new measures aimed at thwarting future airborne terror attacks.

"We have been scrubbing databases" since the December 25 plot, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.

"And as a result of that action, additional visas have been revoked for people that we believe have suspected ties to terrorism," Crowley said.

"It\’s based on our assessment of … the risk associated with specific individuals, on information that we have, you know, from various sources," Crowley said.

But he declined to say how many visas have been revoked or which countries the people affected were from. Asked if the revocations of visas concerned particular countries or regions, he replied: "It\’s global."

The Obama administration tightened security procedures for passengers flying to the United States after a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, allegedly tried to bring down a Northwest Airlines jet.

Crowley confirmed that one of the revoked visas was Abdulmutallab\’s.

US prosecutors charged that Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Flight 253 using a device containing the explosive PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, but was overpowered by passengers.

Allegedly stitched into his underwear, the explosives were not spotted by the traditional metal detectors. It failed to go off properly, but sparked an on-board fire that was swiftly put out.

President Obama\’s administration has had to fend off criticism of lax safety and intelligence procedures exposed by the foiled bombing attempt.

US officials said last week there had been "insufficient" evidence to revoke Abdulmutallab\’s visa, even though his father visited the US embassy in Abuja on November 19 to express fears that radicals might be influencing his son.

Ian Kelly said the embassy relayed those concerns the following day in a diplomatic cable to the State Department and the National Counterterrorism Center, which coordinates intelligence among various government agencies.

Kelly, who has completed a stint as State Department spokesman, said the cable did not say — nor was it required to say — that Abdulmutallab received a two-year multiple-entry standard tourist visa from the US embassy in London.

The cable contained basic biographical data, plus the concerns mentioned by his father, he said.

On Monday, Kelly said the State Department has now asked all US missions to provides "not just biographical information, but also to proactively state in the cable that the subject holds a certain kind of visa."


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