CIA foil new al Qaida airplane bomb plot
Device designed to be placed in passenger’s underwear
THE CIA has foiled an ambitious plot by al Qaida to destroy a US-bound airliner with a new hi-tech bomb.
The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jet over Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day 2009.
The new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, US officials said.
The FBI 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.
It still isn’t known who built the bomb, but counter-terrorism officials suspected it was the work of master bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri or one of his proteges.
Al-Asiri constructed the first underwear bomb and two other devices that al Qaida built into printer cartridges and shipped to the US on cargo planes in 2010.
Both those bombs used a powerful industrial explosive. Both almost succeeded.
The operation is an intelligence victory for the United States and a reminder of al Qaida’s ambitions, despite the death of bin Laden and other senior leaders.
The group has suffered significant setbacks as the CIA and the US military focused more on Yemen.
On Sunday, Fahd al-Quso, a senior al Qaida leader, was hit by a missile as he stepped out of his vehicle along with another operative in the southern Shabwa province of Yemen.