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CIA Prevents Al-Qaida Suicide Plane Attack

  • Meredith Buel

Experts say bomb was a redesign of an explosive underwear device intended to blow up a jet flying to US on Christmas 2009

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U.S. officials say a double agent infiltrated al-Qaida in Yemen to carry out an airline suicide mission, but turned his explosives over to American and Saudi intelligence, along with information that resulted in a successful airstrike against an al-Qaida leader in Yemen. U.S. government officials say the bomb plot is no longer a serious threat.

Working closely with foreign partners, the CIA prevented a plot to put a suicide bomber on a U.S.-bound jet with the explosives concealed in the bomber’s underwear.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan:

“We’re confident that neither the device nor the intended user of this device posed a threat," he said.

U.S. experts say the bomb was a redesign of an explosive underwear device intended to blow up a jet flying to the U.S. on Christmas 2009.

The bomb was made to evade airport security according to Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute.

“The bomb itself contained no metal so most of the airport security devices would not have picked it up," she said. "This is concerning because it means the bomb could have slipped through security measures on to an airplane.”

Authorities suspect the latest bomb is the work of Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who has been linked to several bombing attempts and has ties to al-Qaida in Yemen.

The FBI has demonstrated what would happen if similar bombs detonated successfully.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

“The plot itself indicates that these terrorists keep trying, they keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people," said Clinton.

Reportedly, the U.S. has increased the number of federal air marshals on flights bound to the U.S.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta:

“What this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those that would seek to attack this country, and we will do everything necessary to keep America safe," he said.

Since Arab uprisings across the Middle East began last year, insurgents connected to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have been seizing territory in southern Yemen.

Analysts say this increases the operating space for the terrorists and makes attacks on Western targets more likely.

Recent drone strikes have killed some of the group’s leaders, but that has not stopped the organization’s ability to plot against the U.S.
Again, Katherine Zimmerman:

“Though we have been successful in taking out top AQAP leadership, the group has been able to regenerate and still poses a significant threat to the United States," she said.

Analysts believe AQAP is setting up new training camps in Yemen, and remains the most active and dangerous threat to the United States.