Updated 05/09/2012 08:41 AM
Bomber In Latest Al-Qaida Underwear Weapon Plot Is CIA Double Agent
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The CIA was able to foil the latest underwear-bomb plot by al-Qaida, because the bomber himself was a double agent.
According to published reports, the man first posed as a potential suicide bomber while meeting with an al-Qaeda group operating out of Yemen.
Then after he was given the non-metallic bomb, he turned it over to CIA and Saudi intelligence officials.
The weapon, which would have used the chemical lead azide as its detonator, was reportedly similar to the failed underwear bomb detonated by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in a Christmas Day attempt to bring down an airliner in 2009.
"The device was always under control and that no one in the United States was ever at risk because we did have control," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"They keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Authorities believe body scanners in U.S. airports would have found this new type of explosive.
The Los Angeles Times reports an informant working for Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency convinced members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen to give him the new bomb to use in a suicide mission.
"We do have close counter terrorism cooperation with Yemen. That's undertaken clearly with the full knowledge and support of the Yemeni government," said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
Authorities suspect Abdulmutallab's collaborator in Yemen, al-Qaida bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri, may be responsible for the new explosive device.
"It is a device similar to the underwear bomber of 2009 but an evolution of that, and we always speak about the evolving threats of terrorism, and I think we have to acknowledge that our adversaries are very creative," said Napolitano.
"Looking at Ibrahim al-Asiri for quite a while, a very talented bombmaker, he's located in Yemen, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. He's the individual who made the bomb for Abdulmutallab," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The agent reportedly never dealt with al-Asiri, but produced intelligence that helped the United States kill al-Qaida member Fahd Mohammed Ahmed Quso with a drone strike Sunday as he got out of his vehicle in Yemen.
The FBI offered $5 million for Quso, for his involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration is looking to increase security on United States-bound flights, asking airlines to look for liquid explosives, as well as those hidden inside a person's body or clothes, or in printer cartridges.