A Saudi Arabian double agent was responsible for thwarting an al Qaeda bombing attack on an American airliner.
A supposed suicide bomber recruited by al Qaeda to board a U.S.-bound jetliner and blow it up turned out to be a double agent who turned over the bomb and plans to the CIA. According to the New York Times, the would-be bomber tagged by the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda to destroy the airliner was in reality an intelligence operative for Saudi Arabia who had infiltrated the terrorist cell, “volunteering” for the suicide mission.
“In an extraordinary intelligence coup,” reported the Times, “the double agent left Yemen last month, traveling by way of the United Arab Emirates, and delivered both the innovative bomb designed for his aviation attack and inside information on the group’s leaders, locations, methods and plans to the Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi intelligence and allied foreign intelligence agencies.”
The agent, who had spent weeks embedded in one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliates, apparently also provided the CIA with information that enabled the U.S. to launch a drone strike that killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, a high-ranking al Qaeda director and a prime suspect in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.
Intelligence officials said that the explosive device intended for the attack was an “underwear bomb” believed to have been designed by al Qaeda’s in-house bomb designer Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, whom the Times said most likely also designed the underwear bomb discovered on a passenger, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in the group’s failed attempt on an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
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Photo: This undated 2009 file image obtained and provided by ABC News shows underpants with the explosive used on a failed plot to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2009: AP Images