Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Would-be suicide bomber was U.S. informant

09 May 2012, 13:48

Washington - The CIA and its foreign partners tracked the plot for several weeks and then managed to get the informant to deliver the bomb outside Yemen, possibly to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, sources said.

U.S. intelligence officials wanted to keep a lid on details of how the plot was uncovered to make sure the informant and the family was safe. Sources said the informant was believed to be connected to a foreign intelligence agency allied with the CIA.

The New York Times reported the would-be suicide bomber was an intelligence agent for Saudi Arabia who volunteered for the mission to detonate the bomb aboard a U.S.-bound airliner.

The plot was publicly revealed on Monday.

U.S. and allied intelligence agencies in the last 10 days seized an explosive device that was an improved version of the "underwear bomb" in a failed Christmas Day 2009 airline bombing attempt over Detroit, American officials said

The plot to introduce the bomb aboard an aircraft was the work of Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, considered the group's most dangerous offshoot, U.S. officials said.

The latest device appeared to be similar to the work of fugitive Saudi militant Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who U.S. sources believe is a bomb-maker working with AQAP. The FBI was studying the device to help prevent any future bombing attempts.

"The FBI has possession of the device and is analyzing it, which is a considerable intelligence benefit," said Senator Susan Collins, senior Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.

The Transportation Security Administration "also will be able to examine the device to test whether or not it would have been detected, and make adjustments to improve the chances that similar devices would be detected," she said in an email.


U.S. security measures could detect a non-metallic bomb like the one in the latest plot, but technology such as body scanners is not deployed at all U.S. airports, Obama administration officials said.

There was no immediate sign the administration was ordering changes in aviation security procedures. The plot never came close to fruition and no aircraft was in danger, officials said.

The Department of Homeland Security emphasized the importance of security measures to air carriers and foreign government partners in guidance that reiterated and updated existing security guidelines and encouraged continued vigilance, a DHS official said.

Security steps taken since the failed 2009 attempt, in which a similar device was carried onto a plane by Nigerian militant, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, "would have been able to prevent this device from bringing down an airplane," the official said.

Senator Saxby Chambliss, the senior Republican on the intelligence committee, said the plot was a reminder of how committed AQAP was to attacking Americans. "Once again we've seen they think we are vulnerable through the airways. That's why we give such emphasis to the screening process," he said.

Other U.S. officials said airport metal detectors probably would have trouble spotting a device that had no metal parts.

But airport body scanners, which use light doses of radiation to scan through a passenger's clothes, ought to be able to detect "anomalies" which could then be further examined in a hands-on, pat down search, they said.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, about 700 full-body scanners have been deployed at more than 180 airports in the United States since 2007. However, there are about 450 airports that have federal security, according to the TSA.

"Air travel is safer today than it has been since the September 11 attacks," said Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, citing improved screening technologies like full-body scanners, checkpoints and dogs.

Security at international airports, which varies widely from country to country, is an additional concern for U.S. authorities.

An American official said in the past, militant groups in the Middle East had succeeded in obtaining western counter-terrorism technology, including airport screening devices. Militants then used the equipment to test designs of potential bombs to see whether the equipment detected them.

Sheldon Jacobson, a University of Illinois professor and expert in aviation security, said airline security should not change in response to the recent plot.

"The most important lesson to be learned from this finding is that intelligence information is what prevented this incident from escalating into an actual event," he said.

"More intrusive, indiscriminate airport screening is the worst possible response, and will ultimately make the entire air system less secure for all."

(Additional reporting by Karen Jacobs, Susan Heavey, Vicki Allen and Donna Smith; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Christopher Wilson)

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...