(multimedia) A team of FBI experts are examining a sophisticated new Al Qaeda bomb to figure out whether it could have slipped past airport security and taken down a commercial airplane, U.S. officials said.
The bomb was confiscated after the CIA unraveled a terror plot by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using an underwear bomb around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Usama bin Laden.
The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time Al Qaeda developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials told the Associated Press.
“Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations,” the FBI said in a written statement. “The FBI currently has possession of the IED and is conducting technical and forensics analysis on it.”
Officials say the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. However, it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.
The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought his plane tickets when the CIA stepped in and seized the bomb, officials said. It’s not immediately clear what happened to the alleged bomber.
A U.S. official told Fox News that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, remains “committed to striking targets in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Homeland, and Europe. And AQAP is probably feeling pressure to conduct a successful attack to, from their perspective, avenge the deaths of bin Laden and Awlaki.”
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