CIA foils al-Qa'ida plot for 'underwear bomb' on plane
AN ambitious plot by al-Qa'ida's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a US-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design has been foiled by the CIA.
The plan was to blow up the jet around the anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The attack involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jet over Detroit on December 25 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger's underwear, but had a more refined detonation system, US officials said.
The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.
The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought his plane tickets when the CIA seized the bomb. It is not clear what happened to the alleged bomber.
The operation unfolded even as the White House assured the American public that they knew of no al-Qa'ida plots against the US around the anniversary of Bin Laden's death.
Because of its similarity to the Detroit bomb, authorities suspect the bomb is the work of master bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri.
Al-Asiri constructed the first underwear bomb and two others that al-Qa'ida built into printer cartridges and shipped to the US on cargo planes in 2010.
Both of those bombs used a powerful industrial explosive. Both were nearly successful.
The operation is an intelligence victory for the United States and a reminder of al-Qa'ida's ambitions, despite the death of Bin Laden and other senior leaders.