CIA Thwarts New Al Qaeda Underwear Bomb Plot

By: CBS/AP - Posted by Giang Nguyen
By: CBS/AP - Posted by Giang Nguyen

(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON -- The CIA thwarted a plot by al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, a U.S. counter-terrorism official tells CBS News. The plot was first reported by the Associated Press.

U.S. officials say the plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also built to be used in a passenger's underwear but contained a more refined detonation system, the AP reported.

The counter-terrorism official tells CBS News an actual device was recovered and it has the hallmarks of previous devices used by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The official added that the work is believed to be that of bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.

The would-be suicide bomber was told to buy a ticket on the airliner of his choosing and decide the timing of the attack. It's not immediately clear what happened to the would-be bomber, the AP reported.

President Obama first learned of the plot last month, said Caitlin Hayden, deputy spokeswoman at the National Security Council.

"The disruption of this (improvised explosive device) plot underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad," Hayden said.

The FBI said it had the device in its possession and is conducting technical and forensics analysis on it.

"The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the U.S. government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device," the FBI said in a prepared statement.


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