NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New details emerged Wednesday in the foiled Al-Qaeda bomb plot to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner using a new type of underwear bomb.
“I will say this is one of the most sophisticated and successful intelligence operations that I’ve been aware of,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King.
The double agent who helped U.S. intelligence officials foil the plot was a Saudi citizen working for the CIA. The agent infiltrated Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terror group based in Yemen, officials said.
“The Saudis stamped out Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia in 2003 and a lot of Saudi members of Al-Qaeda went down to Yemen. Some of those men are tired. Some of them want to go home. These are made men in the organization and some of them could serve as double agents,” former CIA analyst Philip Mudd told CBS 2’s Chris Wragge.
Al-Qaeda asked that double agent to carry a new-generation bomb onto an American-bound jetliner. He received the bomb and handed it over to U.S., officials said.
“They’re making mistakes. They’re not big mistakes, but we’ve been fortunate that they’ve been caught,” former NYPD Bomb Squad detective Kevin Barry said.
The bomb is said to be a new design of the underwear bomb that failed to blow up a flight over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. This one has no metallic parts and may have made it through airport metal detectors, experts suggested.
“We in the bureau are currently exploiting an IED – improvised explosive device – ceased overseas in the past,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said.
Congressman King said security officials are looking into who leaked the information.
“As far as I know this has not been in any way declassified by the CIA or by the administration, and it’s really, to me, unfortunate that this has gotten out because it could really put a lot at risk, including human lives,” King said.
The FBI is now deconstructing this new and improved bomb. Officials said there are no immediate plans to change airport security screening measures.
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