Al Qaeda Bomb Plot: ‘Underpants’ Bomber Was Working For CIA

The al-Qaeda operative tasked with carrying a high-tech new “underpants” bomb onto a US-bound jet was in fact an agent working for the CIA and Arab intelligence agencies, according to US officials.

The slightly charred and singed underpants with the bomb packet still in place, that was smuggled onto the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the slightly charred and singed underpants with the bomb packet still in place, that was smuggled onto the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Photo: Remo del Orbe/Flickr

The suicide bomber dispatched by the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda last month to blow up a United States-bound airliner turned out to be an intelligence agent for Saudi Arabia, reports The New York Times. The agent infiltrated the terrorist group and volunteered for the mission, American and foreign officials said Tuesday.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operation.

According to The Huff Post, it was the latest misfire for al-Qaida, which has repeatedly come close to detonating a bomb aboard an airliner. And for the United States it was a victory that delivered the bomb intact to U.S. intelligence.

The agent’s identity is kept secret and both he and his family have been moved to safe houses out of fear of reliation from al-Qaeda’s operatives, tells The Telegraph.

Officials said Tuesday night that the risk to the agent and his relatives had now been “mitigated.”

The bomb that is currently studied by the F.B.I 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 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 bomb is believed to have been built by al-Qaeda’s master bomb maker and explosives experts say it is more sophisticated than the bomb which faled to explode on a transatlantic airliner to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said the latest plot indicated that terrorists “keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people”.

However, American intelligence officials were angry about the disclosure of the Qaeda plot, first reported Monday by The Associated Press, which had held the story for several days at the request of the C.I.A.

“We are talking about compromising methods and sources and causing our partners to be leery about working with us,” said Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

King, who called the bomb plot “one of the most tightly held operations I’ve seen in my years in the House,” said he was told that government officials planned to investigate the source of the original leak.

The Department of Homeland Security pointed out 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

It is known that security procedures at U.S. airports remained unchanged Tuesday, a reflection of both the U.S. confidence in its security systems and a recognition that the government can’t realistically expect travelers to endure much more.

“I would not expect any real changes for the traveling public,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. “There is a concern that overseas security doesn’t match ours. That’s an ongoing challenge.”

The device was handed over two weeks ago and President Barack Obama was informed as the CIA then targeted those who gave it to the agent.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said the latest plot indicated that terrorists “keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people”.

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