Al Qaeda bomber ‘double agent’

The suicide bomber dispatched by the Al Qaeda to blow up a US plane was in fact a double agent who worked for the Saudi intelligence agency.

Updated: May 09, 2012, 09:42 AM IST

Washington: The suicide bomber dispatched by the terrorist leaders of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula to blow up a US plane was in fact a double agent who worked for the Saudi intelligence agency, a media report said.

The plot, unearthed last month, was made public on Monday after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said the bomb was similar to that of the underwear bomber of 2009, but was a bit more sophisticated and technically advanced.

"In an extraordinary intelligence coup, the double agent left Yemen last month, traveling by way of the United Arab Emirates, and delivered both the innovative bomb designed for his aviation attack and inside information on the group`s leaders, locations, methods and plans to Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi intelligence and allied foreign intelligence agencies," The New York Times reported.

According to the daily, after spending weeks at the centre of Al Qaeda`s most dangerous affiliate, intelligence agent provided critical information that permitted the CIA to direct the drone strike on Sunday that killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, the group`s external operations director and a suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.

"He also handed over the bomb, designed by the group`s top explosives expert to be undetectable at airport security checks, to the FBI, which is analysing its properties at its laboratory in Virginia," the report said, adding the agent is now safe in Saudi Arabia.

In an interview, John Brennan, chief counter-terrorism adviser to US President, said it took very close cooperation with international partners to unearth this plot.
"This is something that we have really emphasised over the past many years, working very closely with our Yemeni partners, because AQAP poses a serious threat to us," he said.

"So having the intelligence and being able to take action
before any of these IEDs can make their way to an airplane or an airport is instrumental in terms of being able to disrupt these types of attempted attacks before they get under way," he said.

Brennan said AQAP`s bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has demonstrated real proficiency as far as concealment methods, as well as the materials that are used in these IEDs.

And so what the FBI is doing right now is taking a look at this IED and see what type of modifications, refinements may have been made.

"Now, we adapt our measures accordingly. And so, whatever we learn from this IED, we are going to ensure that it`s going to be incorporated into the measures that we take at airports, as well as any other avenues of approach that the would-be terrorists would take," he said.

In an interview to the CNN, Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the bomb was clearly intended for an aircraft coming to the US, not necessarily a US air carrier at this point.

"But a carrier that was destined to enter to the US airspace," he said.

"This is the value of international liaison partnerships with security services from nations who are committed to the cause of fighting a war against terrorist activities like these, and with because of those relationships, this was brought to the attention of the US and through that process of working with our friends in these other liaison host security nations, we were able to put it together to actually take receipt of the bomb, which is important for us, in order so that we can forensically understand exactly how they`ve changed from the Christmas Day bomber to today," he said.