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The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, The Associated Press has learned.

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-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.

...

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.

The operation unfolded even as the White House and Department of Homeland Security assured the American public that they knew of no al-Qaida plots against the U.S. around the anniversary of bin Laden’s death. The AP learned about the thwarted plot last week but agreed to White House and CIA requests not to publish it immediately because the sensitive intelligence operation was still under way. Once those concerns were allayed, the AP decided to disclose the plot Monday despite requests from the Obama administration to wait for an official announcement Tuesday.

Not immediately clear what happened to the bomber, but I'm guessing he is either in Yemeni custody (it is their country after all) or he's been taken to a US Navy ship offshore for traditional interrogation (i.e. torture & physical coercion strictly prohibited) before he's taken to trial here in the US.  The latter is the model that was used with a Somali terror suspect arrested last year.

Wondering if the trail picked up from the bomber lead us back to Fahd al-Quso, the Al Qaeda leader killed over the weekend who helped orchestrate 9/11, the USS Cole bombing, and the previous underwear bomber.

Congrats to the vigilant security services and personnel involved in preventing another aerial atrocity and keeping America safe as we marked the one-year anniversary of living in a world without Osama Bin Laden.  And thanks to a President who has kept us with laser focus on combatting real threats to our nation instead of military adventurism and personal score-settling.

These terrorists sure are keen to blow their own nuts off these days...

2:51 PM PT: Looks like Saudi intelligence had a big role to play in foiling this.  The President was kept regularly briefed on the situation since April.  And it IS looking increasingly like this operation did in fact lead to the death of Fahd al-Quso, the USS Cole bomber.

4:07 PM PT: It now appears the bomb was intercepted by authorities before it ever even reached the intended bomber.

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