Reporting Kai Jackson
WASHINGTON (WJZ) — An al-Qaeda terror threat on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. It’s what Americans feared most and now we’re learning that threat was real. A sophisticated underwear bomb was supposed to be on a flight bound for the U.S.
Kai Jackson explains how the CIA caught the plot just in time.
Despite all the sophisticated high-tech equipment available, officials say it was intelligence that stopped the plot from taking place.
Pentagon officials say the plot by a Yemen-based al-Qaeda affiliate involved using a bomb inside a passenger’s underwear to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner. The bomb is said to have been an upgrade of a similar device that failed to detonate over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Sources say the latest device does not contain any metal, meaning it would have been able to make it past airport metal detectors.
It may have been discovered through newer full-body scanners depending on the skill of the TSA agent. It is believed to be the work of al-Qaeda’s master bomb maker, Ibrahim al Asiri. He built the first underwear bomb, as well as explosives planted inside printer cartridges that were shipped to the U.S. on cargo planes in 2010.
“This is a very clever guy, very good at making bombs. He’s probably al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s number one threat to the United States directly,” said former CIA officer Bruce Rydell.
Officials say the CIA seized the explosive before the bomber had selected a target flight or purchased tickets. It’s not clear where that occurred or what happened to the suspect.
“What this incident makes clear is that this country continues to remain vigilant against those who would attack us,” said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Federal transportation officials say there will be no noticeable changes in airport security because of this plot.
The White House says President Barack Obama was first informed about the plot last month and was told the device posed no threat to the public.