Tuesday, May 08, 2012

US foil new underwear bomb plot, reports

The US has foiled a plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to detonate an updated version of the failed 2009 "underwear bomb". A device has been seized following a CIA operation in Yemen and is now being studied by the FBI in the United States.

"No immediate threat"

The plot was discovered before it threatened any Americans, and no airliners were at risk, one US counterterrorism official said. A nonmetallic explosive device like the one used in the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound jet in 2009 was recovered.

However, officials stressed that there was no immediate threat. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said authorities have "no specific, credible information regarding an active terrorist plot against the US at this time." Reports say no target had been chosen and no plane tickets purchased by the time the alleged plot was foiled.

President Barack Obama was told about the plot in April, and the attempt "underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad," the White House said.

Similar to failed 2009 device

The device is said to be similar to a bomb sewn into the underwear of would-be suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian man who tried and failed to set off the device over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 [See tvnewswatch: Security increased after failed plane attack / tvnewswatch: Body scanner debate grows after attack].

"As a result of close co-operation with our security and intelligence partners overseas, an improvised explosive device (IED) designed to carry out a terrorist attack has been seized abroad," the FBI said in a statement. "Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations," it added.

Updated & improved

According to reports the device is an improved model of that used by Abdulmutallab. It is said to have a more effective detonation system, has no metal parts and probably would not have been detected by most airport security systems.

If the terror groups have perfected such an explosive system, the news will unnerve those implementing airline security. Attempting to screen the millions of passengers travelling every day with current methods might prove ineffective with such a device. While body scanners are in place at many airports around the world in many cases their use is random. It is not clear if the device would be revealed by such scanners.

[Further reports: BBC / Sky / CNN / Fox News / Telegraph / D Mail]

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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