Double-agent delivered al-Qaeda bomb to CIA

Other News Materials 9 May 2012 05:27 (UTC +04:00)

An al-Qaeda plot to bomb a US-bound airliner was disrupted with the help of a Saudi informant who acted as a double agent inside the terrorist network in Yemen, according to US and Middle Eastern officials cited in media reports late Tuesday.

The Saudi intelligence service played a key role in placing operatives inside al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terrorist network's Yemen-based chapter, including one who posed as a willing suicide bomber, the Washington Post and other media reported, citing US officials outside the CIA speaking on condition of anonymity, DPA reported.

The CIA spent weeks following the movement of the bomb that was eventually turned in by the informant after he left Yemen, the Post said.

At least some of the AQAP plotters were killed in a drone strike after the bomb was in US custody, the officials told the paper.

Yemeni officials announced Sunday that Fahd al-Quso, 37, considered a leading AQAP figure, was killed Sunday in an airstrike while driving a car in the Rafth district in the eastern Yemeni province of Shabwa. Al-Quso was a US-indicted suspect in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, in which 17 US sailors were killed off Aden, Yemen.

"The (AQAP bomb) is in our custody," White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan told television network ABC earlier Tuesday.

"The FBI is exploiting it. We're trying to understand the different aspects of the design to make sure that we're able to take preventive actions in the future to prevent this or other types of devices from getting into areas that could threaten the American public."

He said the US was "confident that it was not going to pose a threat to the American public."

The metal-free bomb was similar to one used by the terror cell in a failed plot to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009, Brennan said. That attempt failed when passengers subdued the would-be bomber, who tried to ignite explosives concealed in his underwear.

"AQAP has been clearly determined to continue to pursue these attempted attacks, and we are going to do everything in our power to stop them long before they get to an aircraft," Brennan said in a separate interview with broadcaster CBS.

He refused to address the status of the would-be bomber in the plot that was announced Monday.

The latest plot may have been timed to coincide with the anniversary of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden death on May 2, 2011, at the hands of US Navy commandoes in his secret compound in Pakistan.