Washington: The US and other intelligence agencies broke up a terrorist plot to bomb a US-bound airliner and seized an explosive device, similar to the ones earlier used by al Qaeda, officials said here on Monday.
Some US officials suggested it could be linked to Yemen-based Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), CNN reported.
According to a US counterterrorism official, the plot was discovered before it threatened any Americans, and no airliners were at risk.
A non-metallic explosive device like the one used in the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound jet in 2009 was recovered, the official said, adding that it was meant for use by a suicide bomber.
A plot by al Qaeda in Yemen to detonate an upgraded version of the failed 2009 "underwear bomb" has been disrupted, reported BBC citing US officials.
The device was seized by intelligence operatives and is in US custody undergoing technical and forensic analysis, the FBI said.
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, after the news of the foiled plot broke, said: "What this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those that would seek to attack this country. And we will do everything necessary to keep America safe."
The White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama learnt in April of an al Qaeda affiliate`s foiled plot to blow up a US-bound airliner, Xinhua reported.
The White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Obama had also been assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public.
"The President thanks all intelligence and counterterrorism professionals involved for their outstanding work and for serving with the extraordinary skill and commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand," said Hayden.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, however, said authorities have "no specific, credible information regarding an active terrorist plot against the US at this time".
The device is similar to others previously used by AQAP, which western officials describe as al Qaeda`s most dangerous affiliate, the FBI said.
The intended user of the bomb "is not a threat anymore”, said a senior administration official, declining to provide further details on the individual.
The recovered device, which never made it near an airport or airplane, was not built to be a so-called body bomb, the official said.
"AQAP is the responsible group here," reported CNN quoting another senior US official.