Ali Velshi Stops Rep. King From Naming Northwest Airlines Terrorist

CNN's Ali Velshi on Friday stopped Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) from divulging the name of the terrorist who tried to set off a bomb as a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam began to land in Detroit.

Velshi did this claiming, "[W]e have not got any information on anyone being charged. So thank you for bringing us information. But would ask you not to name anybody on TV right now, we do not have any word of official charges."

By this time, other news outlets including the Associated Press, CBS, and Fox News had given the suspect's name, Abdul Mudallad.

For some reason, Velshi twice asked King not to say it (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t Steve Malzberg):

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's bring in Representative Peter King, a Member of Congress from New York. He's a Republican, joins me now. He's a Member of the House Homeland Security Committee. Representative King, what have you got?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK (via telephone): Basically the person's name. I understand he's a 23-year-old Nigerian who boarded the flight in Nigeria, his name is Abdulmattal (ph)...

VELSHI: Representative King, I've got to tell you, we have not got any information on anyone being charged. So thank you for bringing us information. But would ask you not to name anybody on TV right now, we do not have any word of official charges. Let me know what else you know other than the identity of the person who may be charged.

KING: His name did appear in a database as far as having a terrorist nexus. It was a somewhat sophisticated device. It was obviously more than a fire cracker. He himself has third-degree burns. And he is being questioned. And obviously this is going to be looked upon very seriously. He has third-degree burns himself.

VELSHI: Ok, so from what we understand and this is what we do know from the federal government, the situational awareness bulletin that was put out, he was being treated as you said and he is claiming to have extremist affiliations.

What do we know about this explosive that was initially reported that it might have been firecrackers possibly because of the size of it or how it went off? Do you know anything about it? Was it strapped to his leg, we've heard that?

KING: No, I cannot tell you what it was. I've been given some indication what it was -- it was certainly not a firecracker. And it appears to be a different type of detonation than has been used before. And again, it could have been far more serious than it turned out to be. And it's -- again, it's fortunately, you know, we were lucky on this one. But it could have been -- yes, it could have been devastating, if it gone off the right way at the right time.

VELSHI: Representative, you know a great deal about airport security obviously given your experience on the committee. Let me ask you this, whatever that device ends up having been, does it strike you as something that should have made it onto an aircraft?

KING: No. I think it should have been detected, again, from what I know. And also we've been concerned about the al Qaeda situation in Nigeria. In fact the U.S. government actually gave body detection devices to the Nigerian government just last year.

Now, whether or not the breakdown in security came in Nigeria or Amsterdam, it's surprising if from Amsterdam because they have a very good track record as far as security. So all of this has to be looked at very, very carefully because again, after all we've gone through over the last eight years, no one should be able to get devices on the plane. Again, unless it was so different from other before but between Nigeria and Amsterdam something happened in one place or the other, or maybe both.

VELSHI: All right, we don't know, you don't know yet specifically though, whether this person who was on the plane from Amsterdam to Detroit originated in Nigeria? In other words, whether their immediate previous flight would have been from Nigeria, we don't know exactly where he originated?

KING: Oh no, my understanding is he did board the plane in Nigeria.

VELSHI: Boarded it in Nigeria and got to Amsterdam then transferred on to Northwest 253 to Detroit. That's what's your understanding is?

KING: Well, my understanding is he boarded -- again, in Nigeria, how he got on to the flight or whether it's a trans -- I don't know, I just know that he got on in Nigeria and went to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to the U.S. The exact -- whether he left one plane for another, I don't know.

VELSHI: Ok, I understand that you do know -- or you believe you know the name of the identity. We're not in a position to say that on CNN yet. We are working to confirm that. That said, Representative, what do you know about the motivation behind this or the connection that this person might have with terrorist organizations?

KING: Again, my understanding is his name was in the database. That he does have al Qaeda connections. Certainly extremist terrorist connections and his name popped up pretty quickly.

VELSHI: Representative, what's your view of how legitimate and realistic a threat this was? And I ask you this from the perspective of our viewers who sometimes wonder whether some of these things are serious or they're just people who are not really capable of carrying out a full terrorist attack? What's your feeling about the seriousness of this?

KING: Oh my feeling is that this was serious. Now, again, how sophisticated he was, I don't know. But it was a very sophisticated device; he set it off before the plane landed. We may have been lucky. He may have been inept. But the fact is considering his background that I -- at least I'm aware of, considering the fact that it was a somewhat sophisticated device, I would say we ducked a bullet on this one.

VELSHI: All right, Representative Peter King, thanks for joining us. We'll be in touch with you as the evening develops and as we get more on this suspected terrorist attack on a flight going from Amsterdam to Detroit. Representative King, thank you.

KING: Thank you.

The transcript of this segment indicates it occurred sometime after 7:30 PM EST. Yet, this CBS/AP piece was posted at Yahoo at 7:15:

(CBS/AP) A Northwest Airlines passenger landing in Detroit on Friday tried to blow up the flight but the explosive device failed, two U.S. national security officials said.

The passenger, who was traveling on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam was being questioned Friday evening, according to one of the officials, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing. [...]

A senior law enforcement source speaking to CBS News has identified the suspect as Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23.

FoxNews.com divulged the name much earlier at 3:01:

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, identified the suspect as 23-year-old Abdul Mudallad of Nigeria, and King said Mudallad "definitely has connections" to Al Qaeda.

King said Mudallad was not on any "no-fly list," but one source familiar with the investigation said the suspect did come up in another federal database after authorities checked his name on Friday.

So, why was Velshi so concerned about not revealing the man's name?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.