President Barack Obama said on Tuesday there had been "systemic failure" had occurred in connection with the failed attack on a Detroit-bound passenger plane on Christmas Day.
"When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable," he told reporters.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, is suspected of trying to ignite an explosive called PETN using a chemical-filled syringe as Northwest Flight 253 approached Detroit on December 25.
Abdulmutallab passed through security checks in Lagos and Amsterdam, where standard metal detector archways failed to spot his weapon.
US officials have scrambled to explain how Abdulmutallab was able to board the airliner for Detroit and ward off criticism that the response from Obama's administration has been slow, antiseptic and inadequate.