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Al-Qaeda bombing disrupted air, U.S. says

Friday, May 11, 2012

 CIA and partners overseas intelligence disrupted an AL Qaeda plot to blow up civilian aircraft using an advanced device explosive designed by the subsidiary of the terrorist network in Yemen, officials American said on Monday.

President Obama was made aware of the threat in April, U.S. officials said, and the plot was stopped before any aircraft or passengers could be endangered. Obama "has been assured that the device is not a threat to the public," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
U.S. officials said the FBI is looking at the camera - on the model of the "underwear bomb" used in an attempt to shoot down an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 - to determine whether security systems of the airport would have detected.

U.S. officials said the CIA and other agencies followed the plot for about a month before proceeding to enter the unit in recent days in the Middle East outside of Yemen, where the bomb was built.
Officials said the bomb or its components were in transit when intercepted, but the device has not been seized at an airport and that al Qaeda had not target a specific flight, yet Unless you take steps to get the explosive edge.

U.S. officials have refused to provide key details about the plot, expressing concern about protecting intelligence sources and sensitive operations. Officials would not say whether a suspect had been apprehended or specify where the device was seized.
The time of the alleged terror plot coincides with a major escalation of the campaign illegal U.S. drone in Yemen. U.S. officials said the explosive appears to have been assembled by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, a subsidiary based in Yemen, which has been linked to large scale against the United States.

"AQAP is the group responsible here," said a senior U.S. official who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to share sensitive information. "We believe that the AQAP produced the device, and we believe it was designed for use by a suicide bomber on an aircraft. "
In addition to the plot 2009 bomber, AQAP has been linked to a failed 2010 attempt to send packages filled with explosives to addresses in Chicago and a 2009 attack in Saudi Arabia, where a suicide bomber was killed when attempting to assassinate the macabre the kingdom official fight against terrorism at the top, Mohammed bin Nayef.

Bomb "difficult to detect"

U.S. officials said the new device was designed to overcome the technical problems and detection systems that had thwarted previous plans AQAP. The bomb was built with a detonator more advanced than that fizzled in the attack foiled Christmas Day, in which the bomber would be, Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was subdued by other passengers frightened by plumes of smoke rising from his seat.

The new device was also devoid of metal or developer components, which means it would have been difficult for any but the most sophisticated systems for airport security to detect.

Dianne Feinstein (California), chairman of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, described the device as "a specific type of bomb that is newly designed and very difficult to detect by magnetometer."

In a written statement, she said, "It was like that. . . Abdulmutallab was in his underwear. "

This device and others are regarded as the work of Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, an accomplished AQAP-affiliated artificer who remains at large.

Bin Laden's birthday

Disclosure of the plot, first reported by The Associated Press, comes less than a week after the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden and amid recent efforts by the Obama administration to make its achievements against terrorism a central issue in the presidential campaign.

White House officials said before, they were not aware of any terrorist plots linked to mark one year of the death of bin Laden. Despite the release of Monday, a senior official said these claims were true.

"We had no specific, credible information about active terrorist plots to coincide with the anniversary of Ben Laden and repeat that this device has never been a threat to the public," said the senior official .

However, detection of the alleged Al-Qaeda plan seems to have set a series of counter-terrorist operations in motion.

Last month, Obama has approved a significant escalation of drone attacks in Yemen, which allows the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command to start shooting on targets engaged in activities deemed suspicious, even if identities of those who might be killed is unknown.

Fahd al-Quso, a senior officer of AQAP were killed in drone strike last, was said to have passed the United Anwar al-Awlaki was born at the head of AQAP external planning. Awlaki was killed in an attack on CIA drone last year.

Quso has been linked to the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 American sailors. U.S. officials said it was likely to have been involved in any plot to strike the United States. Officials declined to say whether he was targeted on the basis of information gathered when the bomb was intercepted.

AQAP threat "increasingly"

CIA analysts have warned administration officials in recent months that the ability of AQAP to seize chunks of territory in Yemen during the past year has made it more dangerous for the United States and its Western allies.

"It is our assessment that the threat of AQAP is increasing because of territorial gains," the senior American official said, adding that its territorial expansion has "allowed the group to establish training camps Extra. "

U.S. officials did not specify whether the seizure of the last bomb was triggered specific security measures. The FBI said in a statement that the device was "seized abroad", but that the office "is in possession of [him] and conducts technical analysis and forensic science."

Staff writer Sari Horwitz and research staff Julie Tate contributed to this report.
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