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US foils Al-Qaeda bomb plot against airliner—official

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US foils Al-Qaeda bomb plot against airliner—official

/ 06:47 AM May 08, 2012

WASHINGTON—The United States has foiled a plot by Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen to blow up an airliner and has recovered the explosive device, a US counterterrorism official said Monday.

This undated file photo released Oct. 31, 2010, by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior purports to show Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a US-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. AP PHOTO/SAUDI ARABIA MINISTRY OF INTERIOR

“The device was for use by a suicide bomber on an airliner,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The plot by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was uncovered at an early stage and represented a “success story” for US authorities working closely with allies, the official said.

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“At no point were any airlines at risk,” the official added.

The bomb had “notable differences” from the explosive employed in a failed attempt to blow up a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009 also linked to AQAP, the official said.

The bomb was “a non-metallic device,” he said, presumably to avoid detection by airport security.

“This suggests AQAP is adapting its methodology, its tactics et cetera,” the official said.

President Barack Obama was briefed about the plot in April and was told by his deputies that lives were never in danger, said Caitlin Hayden, deputy spokesperson for the National Security Council.

“While the President was assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public, he directed the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps necessary to guard against this type of attack,” Hayden said in a statement.

AQAP has been linked to the 2009 Christmas plot in which a bomb in an attacker’s underwear failed to detonate on a plane bound for Detroit, and an attempt in 2010 to blow up cargo planes heading to the United States with explosives hidden in printer cartridges.

Despite the thwarted attack, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen “remains very determined and resourceful,” the US official said.

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TAGS: Al qaeda, Attacks, plot, US, Yemen
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