Rep. Hoekstra: Airline attack should 'connect the dots' for Obama

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) Friday said that the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit should "connect the dots" for the Obama administration. 

Hoekstra, who is the top Republican on the House Select Intelligence Committee, told the Detroit Free Press that the attacks are an indication that al Qaeda is beginning to plan more widespread attacks on the United States. 

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“It’s not surprising,” Hoekstra said of the attempt to blow up a Northwest airliner. “People have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration."

At the time of his remarks, Hoekstra had not been briefed on the attempt Obama administration officials are calling an attempted terrorist attack. 

Hoekstra brought up the fatal Fort Hood shootings allegedly perpetrated by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is reportedly linked to a Islamic cleric in Yemen, Hoekstra said this Northwest incident could be “one more indication” that the al Qaeda branch there may be planning more attacks. 

Hoekstra, on Fox News on Saturday, said his biggest concern is that the intelligence community seems to have missed "red flags" about the suspect if he had ties to al Qaeda and Yemen and had been known to U.S. officials for the past two years, as the AP has reported.

"The Fort Hood shooter had ties to Yemen. Are we starting to see a pattern here?" he said in an interview with Fox News. "Has the al Qaeda franchise made it part of their strategic plans to attack the United States however it can?"

The Michigan Republican has frequently been critical of the Obama administration's handling of national security issues.

U.S. officials have said that there is no indication that the Northwest incident was part of a broader operation.

Hoekstra, though, said he thinks the suspect should have been "quickly elevated" from a watch-list to a no-fly list.

"Are we seeing a breakdown in our intelligence community so that when we see these red flags we aren't recognizing them? That's something that's going to have to be investigated in our committees," he said.

When asked what the specific red flags were, Hoekstra said he didn't know yet. But he said the White House has "been totally unwilling" to share information with lawmakers about red flags that could have prevented terrorist acts. For example, Hoekstra said officials knew about emails sent from Army Major Nidal Hasan before he opened fire at Fort Hood.

"Congress needs to push to get access to this information to answer these questions," he said. "Al Qaeda doesn't take a holiday and neither should we."

23-year-old Nigerian Umar Faouk Abdul Mutallab was detained by passengers and crew after attempting to light some sort of explosive aboard the plan on Christmas Day. 

Two congressional committees have already said they would investigate the attempted bombing next month. 

Kim Hart contributed to this report 

This post was updated at 1:20 p.m.