New underwear bomb plot is proof of ‘perverse’ al-Qaeda
Hillary Clinton urges vigilance as CIA intelligence foils attack on US-bound airliner
AN AL-QAEDA plot to blow up a US-bound airliner using an ‘underwear bomb’ to mark the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden has been thwarted by the CIA. The Daily Telegraph reports that the suicide bomber had yet to select a target and there was no threat of imminent attack.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the bomb plot indicates that terror groups "keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people". Speaking in New Delhi, Clinton said the plot was a “reminder why we have to remain vigilant”.
The New York Times reports that media sources uncovered the plot last week but were asked by the White House and the CIA not to publish, as the intelligence operation was still under way.
While the bomb threat shows that al-Qaeda still hopes to take down aircraft, the paper reports that American counterterrorism officials have gained the upper hand, at least for now.
“We have robust intelligence on their operations, and we killed their external operations chief on Sunday,” an official said, referring to the killing in a drone attack in Yemen of Fahd al-Quso, who was wanted by the FBI for his role in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.
The Washington Post reports that US officials said the CIA and other agencies tracked the plot for about a month before moving to seize the device in the Middle East outside Yemen, where the bomb was built.
The fate of the would-be bomber is unclear: New York Congressman Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that counter-terrorism officials had told him: “We don’t have to worry about him any more.” He is alive, officials added, but wouldn't give any further details.
The Daily Mail says that the device was seized within the past ten days. One official said the latest underwear bomb to be discovered appeared to be similar to the work of fugitive Saudi militant Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who constructed the first underwear bomb in 2009.
The operation unfolded even as the White House and Department of Homeland Security assured the American public that they knew of no al-Qaeda plots against the US around the anniversary of Bin Laden's death.
“We have no credible information that terrorist organisations, including al-Qaeda, are plotting attacks in the US to coincide with the anniversary of Bin Laden's death,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on April 26.