Associated Press: CIA foils another Al Qaeda underwear bomb plot
The Central Intelligence Agency successfully thwarted an Al Qaeda plot to use a sophisticated underwear bomb to bring down a U.S. airliner around the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, the Associated Press reported yesterday.
“Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations,” according to a written statement released by the FBI. “The device never presented a threat to public safety.”
The AP reported that the bomb could be worn in a passenger’s underwear and reportedly contained no metals, which could allow it to slip past airport metal detectors. This appeared to be an upgraded version of the underwear device used in the failed 2009 Christmas Day bombing of Northwest flight 253 over Detroit. The Northwest flight bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was sentenced to life in prison in February.
According to the AP report, the Yemen-based suicide bomber had not selected a target or purchased purchase plane tickets when U.S. intelligence officials seized the device. It is unclear what happened to the would-be suicide bomber.
However, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told the New York Times, “We don’t have to worry about [the bomber] anymore.” King later told CNN that Fahd Mohammed Ahmed Al-Quso, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Sunday, was one of the Al Qaeda operatives behind the latest underwear bomb plot. Al-Quso, 37, is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list for his role in the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen.
“I was told by the White House that they are connected, that they are part of the same operation,” King said on CNN.
The Associated Press delayed the story’s publication for several days at the request of the White House and the CIA because “sensitive intelligence operation was still under way.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the President was aware of the plot since early April and “at no time were Americans in danger as a result of this.”
Carney added that aviation security measures are being constantly adjusted to evolving threats. It is not clear whether the Transportation Safety Administration and the Department of Homeland Security will announce new security measures in light of this incident.
Based in Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is considered by CIA Director David Petraeus as “the most dangerous” Al Qaeda affiliate due to the frequency of their plots and attacks. The political instability in Yemen has created a safe haven for AQAP and allowed the terrorist organization to extend its influence in southern Yemen.
- Associated Press: US: CIA thwarts new al-Qaida underwear bomb plot
- Associated Press: CIA derails plot with al-Qaida underwear bomb
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: FBI Statement on Seizure of IED Overseas
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Fahd Mohammed Ahmed Al-Quso
- WhiteHouse.gov: Press briefing by Jay Carney on May 8, 2012
- Homeland.House.gov: Qaeda Plot to Attack Plane Foiled, U.S. Officials Say
- Central Intelligence Agency: Statement by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency David H. Petraeus to Congress on the Terrorist Threat Ten Years After 9/11
- CNN.com: Rep. King: Drone attack and plot linked
- WhatTheFolly.com: ‘Underwear bomber’ sentenced to life in prison