Plan hatched by Yemen affiliate of al-Qaida involved more sophisticated version of 2009 underwear bomb
US intelligence services foiled a plot hatched by al-Qaida's Yemeni affiliate to blow up a plane bound for America using a more sophisticated version of the underwear bomb deployed unsuccessfully in 2009, according to the White House and the FBI.
The FBI said in a statement it is in possession of a device that is similar to others previously used by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a militant Islamist organisation primarily active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
The Associated Press quoted unnamed US officials as saying that the would-be bomber, based in Yemen, had been given the bomb by al-Qaida, which had left the choice of plane and the timing to him. The CIA intervened to seize the bomb, AP reported. The fate of the alleged bomber is still unknown.
The White House, the FBI and other sources confirmed most of AP's version of events, except its claim that the plot had been conceived to coincide roughly with last week's anniversary of the killing of the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden.
Caitlin Hayden, deputy national security council spokeswoman at the White House, said the president had been informed about the plot last month. "The disruption of this IED [improvised explosive device] plot underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad," she said.
AP revealed that it first learned about the story last week, but agreed to a request by the White House to hold back because intelligence operations were ongoing. The White House asked the news agency to wait until Tuesday, when an official announcement would be made, but the AP, having satisfied itself that there were no longer any security issues, released its story on Monday.
Security forces around the world were on special alert last week, anticipating that al-Qaida might try to mount a revenge attack to mark the anniversary of Bin Laden's death at the hands of a US special forces team at his compound in Pakistan on 2 May 2011. But the day passed without incident.
In spite of the alleged Yemeni bomb plot going on in the background, the US department of homeland security last week issued a statement saying that although threats from al-Qaida and its affiliates continued to evolve, officials had "no indication of any specific, credible threats or plots against the US tied to the one-year anniversary of Bin Laden's death".
In 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. He confessed and was sentenced in February this year to life in prison. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed in 2009 to have been behind the plot.
The FBI, in a statement about the latest incident, said: "The FBI currently has possession of the IED and is conducting technical and forensics analysis on it. Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations. The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the US government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device."
The FBI is investigating whether it was possible for such a device to pass through airport security and, if so, whether it was capable of bringing down a plane.
Controversy has surrounded the use by US security services of "sting" operations aimed at potential bombers within America. Human rights groups have accused the security services of behaving like agent provocateurs. Sting operations have also been used in Central and South America but appear to be less frequent in the Middle East.
Hayden said Obama had been informed of the plot in April by John Brennan, his homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser, and was regularly updated. "While the president was assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public, he directed the department of homeland security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps necessary to guard against this type of attack," Hayden said.
The president had thanked the intelligence and counter-terrorism experts involved "for their outstanding work and for serving with the extraordinary skill and commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand," Hayden added.
AP said that US officials suspect alleged bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri of manufacturing the bomb, as well as the one used in the 2009 underwear plot and two others built into printer cartridges and shipped to the US on cargo planes in 2010.
On Sunday, Fahd al-Quso, who was on the FBI wanted list, indicted for his alleged role in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, was killed by a US drone in the southern Shabwa province of Yemen. Quso was alleged to have been involved in the 2009 underwear bombing.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula confirmed that he had been killed. In a statement, it said he had been a martyr after an American bombing and that another al-Qaida fighter had been killed alongside him. They had been travelling in a car at the time.
Matt Chandler, a spokesman for the department of homeland security, said the latest plot "demonstrates our adversaries' interest in targeting the aviation sector". Security forces would continue to employ a series of layers of protection, he said. "These layers include threat and vulnerability analysis, prescreening and screening of passengers using the best available technology, random searches at airports, federal air marshal coverage, and additional security measures both seen and unseen," Chandler added.
Read more http://bit.ly/JYyt8d
INC- Network of Local Radio Stations in cooperation with in total 15 local radio stations from Kosovo broadcasting in Serbian language and five local radio stations in Serbia including Radio Presheva, Albanian local broadcaster, with the support, of BTD, Austrian.., KFOS Soros Fund and NED, in the period of July-September 2011, produced and broadcast weekly shows titled The Bridge, Prishtina - Belgrade Civil Dialogue which as the main objective had promotion of ethnic tolerance, intra-ethnic and regional cooperation between Albanians and Serbs i.e. Kosovo and Serbia. The motivation for the initiation and then implementation of this unique project which involved in total 15 local broadcasters from Kosovo and Serbia was the beginning of the technical dialogue between two capitols with the mediation of European Union. As the opinion is aware these ongoing talks as the main objective had solving of issues that remains an obstacle in normalization of relations between two capitols. The project was unique for couple of reasons which will be elaborated in this report, however we need to underline here the fact that ‘The Bridge” is the first project which saw such close cooperation and joint work between local broadcasters from Kosovo and Serbia, i.e. for the first time local broadcasters from these two countries together produced and broadcasted same weekly shows, a fact that in itself is an indicator of the conclusion that this project was unique and that was successful in its implementation.