CIA thwarts al Qaeda underwear bomb plan
Earlier today, the CIA thwarted a plot by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a flight using a new design of “underwear bomb”, according to US counterterrorism officials.
Officials said the leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) instructed a suicide bomber based in Yemen to board any flight and time of his choice, with an explosive device under his clothes, the Associated Press reported. However, the would-be bomber had been stopped before reaching an airport. It was the CIA who intervened to seize the bomb, yet the fate of the alleged bomber remains unknown.
Speaking during a visit to Delhi, India, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to the thwarted plan:
“The device did not appear to pose a threat to public air service, but the plot itself indicates that these terrorists keep trying to devise more and more terrible ways to kill innocent people. It’s a reminder as to why we have to be vigilant at home and abroad protecting our nations and friendly nations like India and others.”
The FBI said in a statement: “Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to the improvised explosive devices (IED) that have been used by AQAP in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations.”
According to officials, it was not clear who built the alleged device, but officials said it shared some features with the bomb hidden in the underwear of would-be suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, attempted to detonate the suicide bomb hidden in his underwear on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25, 2009. His “underwear bomb” was not detected during security checks at airports before he boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253. The device failed to detonate fully and Abdulmutallab was sentenced to life in prison.
The security threat was neutralised around the same time as the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. However, the White House, the FBI and other sources rejected the claim that the plot has been conceived to coincide with the death of al Qaeda’s former leader.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: “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.”