US ‘foils underwear bomb’ plot by al-Qaeda in Yemen
The FBI has said the plot never posed a threat to public safety, and security will remain right
7 May 2012 Last updated at 22:49
A plot by al-Qaeda in Yemen to detonate an upgraded version of the failed 2009 “underwear bomb” has been disrupted, US officials say.
The device was seized by intelligence operatives and is in US custody undergoing technical and forensic analysis, the FBI has said.
Reports said no target had been chosen and no plane tickets purchased by the time the alleged plot was foiled.
There is no indication on the status of the would-be bomber.
“As a result of close co-operation with our security and intelligence partners overseas, an improvised explosive device (IED) designed to carry out a terrorist attack has been seized abroad,” the FBI said in a statement.
“Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations,” it added.
President Barack Obama was first informed of the plot in April, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, adding that the device did not pose a threat to the public.
It is not clear who built the device, but officials say it shares some features with the bomb sewn into the underwear of would-be suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
He was arrested when his device failed to explode fully while on a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
A US intelligence official said the device bore the “hallmarks” of the 2009 underwear bomb.
The latest device included a powerful industrial explosive and did not use metal, suggesting the bomb could have passed through airport security unnoticed, the Associated Press reports.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said air security would continue to incorporate threat and vulnerability analysis, pre-screening and screening of passengers, as well as random searches at airports, air marshals and other unspecified security measures.
News of the operation emerged shortly after US marked one year since the death of Osama Bin Laden. Last week, the White House said it was not aware of any current al-Qaeda plots against the US.
It also comes one day after Fahd al-Quso, a senior al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, was killed by a US drone strike.